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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 75 reviews
on January 29, 2016
"Remainder" is not your average book, and one must submit to the style and story and let it take you. Don't skim. Read every word. Read it out loud. The descriptions are detailed and for a good reason. Not much really happens in the story, but it's the journey that makes the read worthwhile. Think of it as following a man's quest to find happiness...at all costs.
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on May 1, 2016
Mind-blowing! Tom McCarthy's first novel is so brilliant you ask yourself how on earth it could have been rejected by so many publishers. The answer probably lies in its originality. Publishing houses like cookie-cutter novels and safe bets, but in doing so they underestimate their readers. If you love Alain Robbe-Grillet's work and are familiar with French structuralist and post-structuralist theory, you will also fall in love with this book.
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on May 9, 2015
This is a difficult book to rate. For the first 150 pages I thought this would be the most brilliant book I've read in a while. But then the story gets wrapped up in the main characters obsessive loop and it drags until the very end where it takes the darker twist I had been looking for a bit to late. All in all a very inventive story that kept my interest. I would recommend to a reader fascinated by neurosis, rabbit holes and obsessive psychopathology.
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on February 24, 2015
As the book begins, the narrator (never named) has just received an enormous financial settlement for a traumatic accident which is never quite revealed. With this money he tries to find a moment in time which will deliver him an epiphany, his Faustian "stay a while" moment.

(For those needing a quick refresher: Goethe's Faust tells the devil he may have his soul if he can deliver a single moment so profound, so recondite, that Faust tells the moment, "Stay a while, you are so beautiful." The devil takes him all over the place, gives him all kinds of experiences, but in the end, Faust has a moment of bliss in spite of the devil's efforts, not because of them).

But not just any epiphany, he has a specific scene in mind. And a bizarre scene it is. He buys an entire apartment building. He hires actors to live in the building, each in their own apartment, just practicing to be the person he requires them to be. He does this through a factotum he has hired expressly to make it all happen. He spends Croesean amounts of money to have people live his extravagant fantasy, and re-enact his dream, over and over again, until he decides he's done.

Then he witnesses an incident on the street, involving a car and a bicycle, and spends even more money, using his same logistics manager, to re-enact that scene.

And then he decides to re-enact yet another scenario, even more complicated than before.

What is the narrator searching for? Does he finally achieve it, and if so, what form does it take? Or does he keep going, believing the moment will yet arrive? Did he achieve it, but miss it? Does he give up, understanding the moment will never come? Or does he realize he's already had that moment, and settle down?

And if this is Faust, is there a devil? Is the devil the factotum, that logistics expert who gives him everything he requests? Or is it the narrator himself? After all, he is the one with all the power and money to make it all happen. Or maybe there is no devil at all; maybe the narrator is being driven by his own "inner demons", as it were.

Personally I think the ending is brilliant. Yes, as other reviews have mentioned, it is a bit existential, a bit philosophical, a bit un-plotted; but I like the way McCarthy brings us to the conclusion, and shows us the choices the narrator ultimately makes, and lets us steep in the conclusion to live with our own thoughts and reactions.

And the writing along the way is simply fantastic. I love the way McCarthy applies philosophical filters to everything, how he sees tangible objects and real happenstance in terms of events and interactions, some real and some inscrutable.

A very thoughtful and deep book, a smart retake on the Faustian myth, and a satisfying read.
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on February 17, 2016
The first 50 pages were tough because I find McCarthy's style to be a bit chatty. But once I got into the neurotic plot/protagonist, then I was involved. If you like a novel with a bit of absurdity, then this might interest you.
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on July 7, 2007
I found this novel to be a completely effective, and thoroughly entertaining modern existential gem. It sparkles with wit and talent; It was dark, gruesome, hilarious, bizarre, and utterly original. The story of a misanthropic, almost Dostoyevskian victim of falling debris, mental imbalance, amnesia, and an evil imagination; a man turns injury into creative malice, trying to artificially rebuild a broken memory by staging the world around him until reality itself turns wretched, broken and false. See it as metephor, expressionism, or a claim on man's soul, vision, or insight...but see it as a comedy first, because it truly is one of the more risky and out-there comic takes on modern humanity I've yet come across. Virtuosic but somehow simplistic, a great summer read you won't soon forget.
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on July 10, 2013
A good exercise in contemporary literary theory. Even if you don't know anything in the field, you could enjoy the book as a pathological case in contemporary cultural scenes. Be prepared, graduate students and TAs. You need to be really erudite to say anything about this book to students.
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on December 8, 2014
I think the overall allegorical message is pretty powerful, but I found the book excessively detailed in repetitive events, amounting a much redundancy and tiresome reading.
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on September 3, 2015
But I just couldn't! Sadly, I am the type of reader who will continue reading a book even after I realize I don't like it and am not enjoying it at all. I am sure there is a 12-step program for that but I haven't found it yet. The novel starts out well and I enjoyed the writing, the protagonist and the first half of the book. Then it started getting tedious, repetitive, predictable and excessively wordy. By the time I reached the 3/2 mark, I just lightly skimmed the rest of it. I know this is a capable writer and I know that many people liked this novel, I just didn't.
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on September 11, 2012
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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