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Comment: Worn Copy Showing Clear Signs of Use. Covers and Interior May Include Writing, Notes, Marks, and Other Signs of Wear. Still a Good Reading Copy and Reference Piece Even with its Defects.
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Remainder Paperback – February 13, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McCarthy's debut novel, set in London, takes a clever conceit and pumps it up with vibrant prose to such great effect that the narrative's pointlessness is nearly a nonissue. The unnamed narrator, who suffers memory loss as the result of an accident that "involved something falling from the sky," receives an £8.5 million settlement and uses the money to re-enact, with the help of a "facilitator" he hires, things remembered or imagined. He buys an apartment building to replicate one that has come to him in a vision and then populates it with people hired to re-enact, over and over again, the mundane activities he has seen his imaginary neighbors performing. He stages both ordinary acts (the fixing of a punctured tire) and violent ones (shootings and more), each time repeating the events many times and becoming increasingly detached from reality and fascinated by the scenarios his newfound wealth has allowed him to create—even though he professes he doesn't "want to understand them." McCarthy's evocation of the narrator's absorption in his fantasy world as it cascades out of control is brilliant all the way through the abrupt climax. (Feb.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Rejected in England before it was acquired by a small French publishing house, Tom McCarthy's debut novel is now a popular and critical success. The author, who in 1999 launched the semihoax International Necronautical Society (INS)—designed to map and colonize the space of death—transfers some of the Society's philosophical concerns to his novel. About human reality, social constructions, and the quest for identity, Remainder offers a highly original and insightful allegory of our times. In a clear, deadpan tone, the narrator, "an existential Everyman" (Los Angeles Times), tells a bizarre, disorienting, and compelling story. The vagueness may bother some readers, but most will enjoy pondering the ambiguity of it all.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278357
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Remainder is a novel to be read for the existential discomfort that it leaves you with. Those who read this for a plot will not be satisfied. It attempts to recreate (or "re-enact") the soul and its connection to the material world, and cleverly poses the question who is observing who and what is the real self.

If you do not wish to contaminate your experience of the novel, then do not read on. Just read the following paragraph, which is my conclusion:

I highly recommend this book to those interested in exploring existentialism, the philosophy of body and soul, and also post-traumatic stress syndrome. Besides that, I found this to be an entertaining novel that I could not put down, full of a quirky British sense of humor.You may find yourself reading the book a number of times to digest the full meaning.

What is reality? The author may have cleverly "tricked" the reader into thinking that the novel takes place in the "real" material world....

My take on this novel(and this can be interpreted in many ways) is that the whole sequence is a dream, possibly of someone dying on a ventilator in an ICU, having experienced a horrific trauma. It may even have occurred at the instant preceding death...there is much emphasis on slowing down and stretching time.The re-enactments cleverly contain dream-like images and metaphors of the events surrounding the trauma. As he struggles to live (possibly within a coma and a paralysed body)he recreates the moment of "death", stuck in a state that borders on life and death at the moment of the trauma. As he struggles to hang on to life, he reinvents the traumatic moment...he is stuck at that point.
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This book was a recommendation to me and although it's very well written, I just couldn't get into it. The main character is not meant to be likable, but pretty early on I just stop caring about him. And when you stop caring about what happens, it's hard to remain focused on the book. It just felt like it dragged on and on before finally reaching it's denouement. Maybe that was the feel the author was going for, but it's hard for me to get into a story that drones on. It might be for other people, but just not for me.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book on the basis of the strength of a review in Entertainment Weekly (an A-, I believe.) It might be worth the $9 Amazon is selling it for now, but don't go out and buy it at your local store for full price.

The beginning is a bit slow but, overall, the novel is not poorly written. It was an enjoyable read in general - right up to about the last few pages. Given what McCarthy has written and how, the story escalates the only way it can (savvy readers will see it coming) and yet, the end is unsatisfying. I found myself unsympathetic - or maybe unempathetic - to the main character and I had trouble believing & understanding his motivations. It felt like the book ended too early and there are several red herrings / character circular thought patterns that don't really lead anywhere.

I think McCarthy's book is a bit self indulgent. I think I was supposed to feel it was all very clever and cool but I feel like it was several hours that would've been better spent reading something else. That being said, it isn't the worst book I've ever read - it's squarely middle of the pack material.
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Format: Paperback
Remainder by Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy is a kid with a box of crayons and his own set of rules. Remainder, a first novel, could best be described as the story of what could happen at the crossroads of weird and possible. What happens when you give a guy a mysterious brain injury and more money than he'll ever need? Throw in a little bit of disoriented pride and you've got the makings of this strangely compelling novel.

We first meet our hero as he relearns how to walk, eat, and talk, one laborious maneuver at a time, but this is no heroic recovery novel. Soon he is able to appear to be the same as he once was. He has lost his memory, but it is slowly coming back to him, and as a huge lawsuit settlement turns him into a multi-millionaire, he goes on a quest to create, or recreate, a moment that will make him feel something real, something non-maneuvered. So much money not only allows him to go about this quest in whatever way he sees fit, but it also allows him to refuse to explain himself as the money flows.

The unnamed narrator, unnamed perhaps because, as the title suggests, he is less of a real person than the remainder of a real person after the accident. How much humanity remains in this remainder? How far is he willing to go to feel something real? How many rules of society will his money let him break, and how long will that money last? The crescendo of this mad fugue will keep adventurous readers enthralled.
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REMAINDER is about a man who has recently recovered from a near-fatal accident. He has been awarded an obscene amount of money as recompense for the tragedy, on condition that he never discuss its particulars. All you will learn is that it involved something falling from the sky. The narrator, having undergone extensive rehabilitation to learn again how to move and simply be, now finds himself at a remove from reality. While casting about for something to do with his newly acquired millions, he experiences a powerful jolt of deja vu and has the brilliant idea to recreate every aspect of that moment, from the cracks in the walls to the smells and sights of the world outside.

What follows is an escalating examination on the nature of being as the man begins embarking on ever more complicated recreations of reality, some mundane and others decidedly not so. As the man immerses himself ever more in simply being in these moments -- or analyzing them in excruciating detail -- he ironically begins to lose his grip on reality until, in the final portions of the novel, he finally learns a profound truth not only about what it means to exist perfectly, but also about how such a thing is almost certainly not possible.

This is a truly brilliant and disorienting novel, and McCarthy's prose never misses a chance to linger over every detail. Since it is aggressively ontological, it may very well bore some people. Analyzing the nature of being is highly problematic from the get-go because such analysis requires observation, which is impossible apart from being. Our protagonist, recognizing this, tries to understand his recreations in every permutation, from within and without and above, and although he comes very close to achieving transcendence, it is at the expense of actually living.
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