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Remainder

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  3,544 ratings  ·  578 reviews
A man is severely injured in a mysterious accident, receives an outrageous sum in legal compensation, and has no idea what to do with it.

Then, one night, an ordinary sight sets off a series of bizarre visions he can’t quite place.

How he goes about bringing his visions to life–and what happens afterward–makes for one of the most riveting, complex, and unusual novels in rece
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Paperback, 308 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Angie
Jan 22, 2008 Angie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nihilists, freshman/sophomore philosophy majors
Recommended to Angie by: a very mean ad in "the new yorker"
this book caused me pain. honest, physical pain, primarily in my neck and shoulders, but also a little bit in my left eyeball, where i believe some cellular degradation and apoptosis took place, and also diffusely and bilaterally in the temporomandibular region. it also induced some psychological and existential suffering, and i believe that this was more the author's aim. that being said, mccarthy comes across as the kind of writer who wouldn't be sad to hear that there were negative physical s ...more
Greg
Zadie Smith praised this book and in her essay on 'realistic' versus whatever you want to call this sort of novel. I'm sure she is smarter than I am and she maybe knows more about literature, but I don't share her enthusiasm for this and I think that there are many better examples of books out there fighting the good fight against the naturalistic / realistic novel. But maybe this is the sort of novel that can serve as a gateway read into the more interesting terrain of 'difficult' literature (o ...more
Szplug
In a light that is fierce and strong one can see the world dissolve.
–Franz Kafka
In his first (published) novel, I am convinced that Tom McCarthy realized his beguilingly strange fictive vision within a degree of perfection. In a skillfully wrought authorial mirroring, every element begets that which renders it contingent—the everyman narrative voice, the unadorned prose, the detached inflection and intonation, the hum of the banal and drone of the workaday, the subdued sexuality, the repetitive
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R.
Oct 06, 2007 R. marked it as to-read
Me and a friend each received promo copies of this...as far as I understand, it's À rebours meets Groundhog Day...or a man relives aesthetic minutae, or aesthetic minutae becomes his life.

Or is that "I and a friend"?

Me (...) received (a) promo

I (...) received (a) promo

I and a friend received promo copies of this...as far as I understand, it's À rebours meets Groundhog Day...or a man relives aesthetic minutae, or aesthetic minutae becomes his life.

I received a promo copy of this. A friend did,
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Oscar
Novela extraña donde las haya, pero también de las que perduran en la memoria tiempo después de su lectura. Mediante una prosa sencilla, Tom McCarthy aborda temas trascendentales como la imperfección de la realidad o la búsqueda de lo auténtico.

La historia tiene como protagonista a un londinense que nos irá narrando lo que le sucedió. Acaba de recuperarse de un accidente; algo le cayó del cielo provocándole unas lesiones que le dejaron temporalmente en coma, y borrándole parte de su memoria. Tra
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Drew
Rarely does a book manage to break down the habits and expectations that a reader builds up in a lifetime of reading.
Novels conform to schemas: there are quests, there are obstacles to be overcome, there are the universal standbys of love, hate, sex and murder: death must come violently and suddenly in order to grip the reader and to disentangle her from the nasty feeling that it might be her destiny too one day.
Of course these are broad and possibly unfair generalisations, but you get the poin
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Katia
I had to give this book four stars although I can not recommend it. It really drew me in. I couldn't put it down but then as I went on, it became more and more disturbing until it got just outright creepy. This book is so intricate and well-written. I think it will stay with me for a long time, but I don't really want it to. I was SO creeped out by the end of it, I actually felt anxious for several days after finishing it. It affected the way I looked at things around me, the details that you wo ...more
Mattie
Fascinating, disturbing, strange, compelling. To actually write about Remainder would, I fear, spoil the book for anyone who hasn't read it. Even to list the variety of questions swarming around in my head seems like it could ruin it. So, I won't. I'll just say that this book is unlike anything else I've read and I loved it. I suspect this is going to haunt me for a while. Which is cool.
Laryssa Wirstiuk
Finally, I finished reading Remainder by Tom McCarthy. I have been reading this 300-something page book, which I purchased based on a recommendation from McSweeney’s, for weeks. Today, I willed myself to finish it.

My professors at the University of Maryland, Merrill Feitell and Maud Casey, constantly discuss the importance of the first fifty pages of a book. They believe that these introductory pages can make or break a novel.

When Victor LaValle spoke to our workshop, he recalled what it had bee
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Eugene
conceptually rich but a pedestrian style had me skimming for plot points. eventually however i was won over by its idea-virus, an insidious slow-motion mind bomb akin to bartlebooth's project in perec's LIFE. and like the wooster group's ambition of total absorption in a mimetic act, REMAINDER reverberates with echoes that prod the reader into rewarding hunts for meaning/explanation.

in this odd promotional prose for a recent delillo book, the copywriter argues (convincingly) that we've entered a
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Lauren
Aug 04, 2007 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
I *loved* this book, but probably because it has exactly the ingredients I like: "unreliable" narrator, sharp writing, and a page-turning plot -- so hard to find all of these in one book!

I thought the premise was moderately interesting, but it's not what captured me. Rather, it was the way the book spun out and the narrator unraveled that fascinated me. And Tom McCarthy is just smart and witty, and his prose is razor-sharp. Reading the other reviews on this site of this book, I was genuinely sur
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Joel
Nov 16, 2010 Joel marked it as to-not-read-ever
Recommended to Joel by: bizarro donna
My girlfriend read this book and hated it. So there are two reasons not to bother:

1) I usually agree with her about this stuff, so why waste the time?
2) If I read it and love it, she'll just look at me with contempt and shake her head.

Sorry, Tom McCarthy. If it makes you feel any better, I decided to probably not read C all on my own. It just seems annoying is all.
Cyrus
I was inclined, due to a blurb on the jacket describing the book as a work of "existential horror", to read it as an allegory. I'm pretty sure that this was what the author was going for. In my opinion though, the author fell into every trap that makes writing that sort of book difficult.
The main character is a sort of "man without qualities" which is a result of his condition (an accident in which something falls from the sky onto him and places him in a comatose state, which he wakes from w
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James
This is a fantastic book, a real surprise. The book is narrated by a man who has experienced a severe head trauma that put him in a coma. After coming out of it, he then is awarded a massive financial settlement. He uses this money to speculate on the stock market, and then, as he slowly reacquaints himself to the world, to build replicas of buildings, scenarios, etc and to put on rehearsals and recreations of odd incidents and people that happen to fascinate him. Over the course of the book, he ...more
Mary
Flawless. A taut, tidy, disturbing little piece of fiction, and one that certainly won't be for everyone. A novel that should have been stifling and airless somehow manages to feel aerated and cautiously expansive, like an inflating balloon on the verge of bursting.

This isn't the sort of book for readers in the mood for something filled with likable characters or lyrical emoting. I love those books, but Remainder is not one of them--it isn't for the heart, it's for the head. It is a thought exp
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Jamie
"The Remainder" won the Believer book award, and I thought that gave it a good shot towards being something I would like. Boy, I was wrong. This book is awful. It starts out okay, but then it just devolves into the most painful exercise in futility - which may be the point, but God, this book made me mad.

The unnamed narrator has come into a huge sum of money by being hit by a flying object. He barely remembers the accident but now he has an ungodly amount of money and nothing to do with it. He a
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Adam
Tom McCarthy’s Remainder is a stunner, a breathless plunge into one man’s obsession. For anyone who thought existentialism as a genre of fiction tapped out about the middle of last century is in for a treat. This is a very modern take and a story that invites a wonderful bounty of interpretation and handily ducks each of them. A critique of a society where we are increasingly at the mercy of the whims of the rich, on our need for authenticity, locating meaning in the events our urban surrounding ...more
Alex
Jul 27, 2007 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who can't figure out what life is about
Guy in an accident hits it rich, but with his mind changed by the incident, he sets out to explore what it means to be alive and in the moment. He pays outrageous sums to recreate memories down to the most elaborate trivial detail. He seeks to control the tiniest of minutia, and eventually this leads to an inevitable tragic conclusion. Auster-like at times- this is one of the more bizarre meditations on happiness that you are likely to read. Is the conclusion a cop out? Or does it speak to the i ...more
Jenne
I think what I liked about this book isn't what most people would like...
But I loved reading about how a very efficient person carried out the very complicated and difficult tasks that were required of him by a crazy person with too much money.
It was very deeply satisfying, on a sort of molecular librarian level.
I think this would make a great book club book, because it's not too long and is pretty easy to read, and the weirdness of it would give you a lot to discuss.
Paul
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

A man suffers head injuries after being struck by an unspecified object falling from the sky. After emerging from a coma he endures months of physiotherapy, learning to speak and control his body by rerouting commands through undamaged parts of his brain. He returns to his previous life but feels disconnected. A massive financial settlement comes through; he is suddenly wealthy enough to do whatever he wants. In a bathroom at a friend's party, he zones out and experience
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Stacia
Here is a nice review of Remainder by Tom McCarthy. In the review I link, there is mention/comparison to Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Earlier this year, I read A Tale for the Time Being, another book which referenced/reflected Proust's work too. I may have to tackle Proust soon as serendipity seems to be pointing him out to me.

Remainder is a book I had sitting on my shelves for awhile (a copy I snagged off of PaperbackSwap after I fell in love with McCarthy's writing in C). I had no idea wha
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Tarin Towers
Remainder is perhaps the most deeply disturbing book I've ever read. I kept having to put it down hoping the plot would change course. Sometimes it did. It didn't really reach the point of no return until toward the end, at which point I couldn't put it down.

The writing is odd -- since the book is about patterns and sequences and reproductions, the writing is kind of flat, like the affect of the character, but it is completely successful at achieving this tone. It's kind of like Ben Marcus but
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Trish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott
I enjoyed Remainder, by Tom McCarthy. I thought that the story was realistic, in terms of it dealing with what a real person might do if they were hit in they're head, were an amnesiac, and then woke up with a large sum of money. My favorite characters were the Liver Lady, and Sensory Experience Of The World. My favorite part was when the main character (who has no name, I don't think) staved off The Void / Nothingness by immersing himself in the details of small but important everyday events. T ...more
Justin
This is a bizarre experiment of a book that's not very likable or fun to read. McCarthy's nameless protagonist suffers a terrible head trauma, only to recover and find out he's become a millionaire thanks to a lucrative settlement. He also awakens to a new perception of reality, a heightened awareness of the smallest of life's details and an urge to slow them down and study them again and again. And so he does. He takes his money and spends huge sums of it on elaborate reenactments of tiny slice ...more
Edan
Judging from the ultra-high-concept premise, I should've known this novel wasn't right for me. A guy gets 8.5 million pounds in a settlement for an accident he's not allowed to disclose (part of the settlement's agreement), and soon after gets the urge to re-enact an experience that feels like a vivid memory but isn't. This part of the book is pretty compelling and strange, but after that the novel simply depicts the narrator's thirst for one re-enactment after another as he falls farther and fa ...more
Sabra Embury



"Remainder" fell miles short of impressing me aside from McCarthy's ability to prove that he knows his way around words.

The story revolves around a man who, from an accident of some object falling from the sky and hitting him (??), receives a settlement of a few million dollars from a company. With too much money and time on his hands the man pays actors and laypeople people to reenact various moments, mundane or dramatically violent, which appeal to his euphoria inducing sense of déjà vu. As
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Keith
Now that it’s over I can say one thing for sure, I didn’t see that coming. Am I glad I went there? I’m not sure.

The story is of a man who is an accident, yet despite any real long term disabilities he is awarded 8.5 million pounds, a sum that is contingent on the fact that he do not revel the circumstances of his accident, on that is fine with him as he doesn’t remember anything.

So we as readers are dropped in just before he finds out about the settlement and never learn anything much about the
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James Clancy
Tom McCarthy's Remainder is the story of a man just trying to find the content happiness he once had in his life before a mysterious accident changed everything and left him with a fortune in court settlements. The novel is a quirky funny and often disturbing look at how money and control cannot buy happiness.

The novels main character is an anonymous narrator who after suffering brain damage from a mysterious accident involving "something falling from the sky", comes into an eight-and-half-milli
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Ryan Chapman
Jul 21, 2008 Ryan Chapman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ryan by: The great staff at Seattle's Bailey/Coy Books
Shelves: fiction
I found this book initially annoying, as McCarthy's prose style almost dies on the page. You could debate however this level of un-lyricism serves the protagonist's narration. Regardless: as this book has stayed with me for over a year, I have to give it five stars. This book is wholly original, one of the most avant-garde of the last decade.

Does cinema change the way we process information? Given limitless wealth, what would you do? Is utter selfishness destructive, or enlightening? What is th
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Tom McCarthy — “English fiction’s new laureate of disappointment” (Time Out, September 2007) — is a writer and artist. He was born in 1969 and lives in a tower-block in London. Tom grew up in Greenwich, south London, and studied English at New College, Oxford. After a couple of years in Prague in the early 1990s, he lived in Amsterdam as literary editor of the local Time Out, and later worked in B ...more
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“All great enterprises are about logistics. Not genius or inspiration or flights of imagination, skill or cunning, but logistics.” 8 likes
“[...]to be real--to become fluent, natural, to cut out the detour that sweeps us around what's fundamental to events, preventing us from touching their core: the detour that makes us all second-hand and second-rate.” 5 likes
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