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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  6,568 ratings  ·  880 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
Paperback, 308 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Han Yes they did (Directed by Tom Sturridge), i have bought it on DVD but untill now didn't dare to watch it, most probably a big letdown...…moreYes they did (Directed by Tom Sturridge), i have bought it on DVD but untill now didn't dare to watch it, most probably a big letdown...(less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  6,568 ratings  ·  880 reviews

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Sean Barrs
Apr 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy watching paint dry and thinking about cracks in walls.
I almost never, ever, give up on books. Even when I’m reading the ones I dislike, I make an effort to reach the end. I don’t think you can fully judge a book unless you’ve read it in its entirety. It would be like a movie reviewer walking out of the cinema half way through and writing up a review for the film nevertheless. It would be incomplete. But this one defeated me. I just couldn’t go on after hitting the half way mark. It’s only the second book during the last four years of reading that I ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 repetit
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Laryssa Wirstiuk
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2007 marked it as to-read
Me and a friend each received promo copies of 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 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,
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
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
A very damaged story of a very damaged man.
“If you were the last person to pass through, your ticket should be the top one.” “I was the last one through,” I told him. “No one came past after me. But that’s not my ticket.” “If you were the last one through, then this must be your ticket,” he repeated. It wasn’t my ticket. I started to feel dizzy again. (c)
Everything, each movement: I had to learn them all. I had to understand how they work first, break them down into each constituent part, th
Gumble's Yard
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Really excellent and memorable read, unusually written but satisfying as matches interesting and deep themes with a well written, and internally coherent and consistent (if extremely bizarre) plot and with interesting characters: the narrator obviously but also the facilitator Naz – initially someone who arranges the diaries and lives of rich people but who becomes with this assignment an obsessive information management junkie, actually encouraging the narrator’s obsession rather than checking ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
"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
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
When The Guardian reviewed this novel, they referred to it as "splendidly odd" and I think that is an excellent description.

After a major accident and subsequent rehabilitation, a man is triggered by a crack in someone's wall to "re-enact" memories (although they might not actually be memories). As he has £8.5 million in compensation to play with, his re-enactments are extravagant. But, clearly, his mind after his accident doesn't work quite like a "normal" mind. Things spiral downwards.

This bo
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: logistics, favorites
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.
Nov 16, 2010 marked it as to-not-read-ever
Recommended to unknown 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.
Sentimental Surrealist
Is it a sign of Remainder's greatness or its unevenness that I can't come up with a firm stance on it? Well, you could certainly make the first argument. Zadie Smith argues that this could become the future of literature, a novel that makes no attempt at the transubstantial miracles of more conventional fiction (words become people! And a representation of the noble human soul! Hence, so say the realists, the importance, the importance of their conventions!), and as someone who can take or leave ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
RIDICULOUS. Some books are written solely to make you scratch your heads until your scalp becomes a memory and this is one of them.

But considering it’s Tom McCarthy, that should not be such a big surprise, right? If you’d read Satin Island before and still wanted to try out McCarthy’s other works (like me), you knew full well what you were getting into. BUT STILL.

I’m all for reading “difficult” books and trying to decipher the hidden meanings. But McCarthy’s Remainder is so obfuscated that I fe
lark benobi
Wow! Hmm.

That could be my whole review.

I'm glad I kept the faith while reading this book. The first part gives the impression that you're about to read a confessional weepy survivor story, and then the story veers without warning into a story that grapples in the most graphic way possible with the question of what makes our lives meaningful. It plays with the idea that a few perfect moments in one's life, however brief, are all that is necessary to give life meaning...and then it subverts this
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
A survivor of a mysterious accident gets locked into repetition and analysis. An at times darkly humorous, well written debut novel by McCarthy, which almost defines classification, originally I was very lazy in just calling it dark humour, and eventually came to the conclusion of defining it as surreal logic! Maybe it was too smart for me, but I found it hard work trying to either understand or enjoy this, although the core premise was interesting. 4 out of 12.
Eric Wojcik
May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Baffled by the praise for this book, by so many intelligent readers. Normally this would prompt a hesitation and reassessment but this is one of those books that makes me more irritated the more I think of it. I was positioned on the wrong foot by Zadie Smith's glowing suggestion that the way forward from realist novels lies with McCarthy's book (

Yes, the narrative is unique. A man, newly rich, newly absent his memories, buys scrupulous reconstructions o
Tarin Towers
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tarin by: Maureen
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
Feb 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
A large portion of this book is very good. The writing style could be construed as antiseptic, but I prefer to go only so far as clean and crisp. And the central concept, restoring authenticity (not a great way of articulating it, granted), is very interesting and well treated, with tons of really great scenes wherein the narrator spends a bunch of money to recreate things he's done a thousand times (just read it) -- until the end, which really sucks. It feels as if McCarthy wrote himself into a ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a strange, strange book. Almost impossible to recommend due to its particular outré of strangeness and yet I liked it very much. The plot is simple enough, A 30 year old Londoner becomes an instant millionaire due to an enormous legal settlement from an undisclosed trauma and goes on to obsessively recreate and reenact dreamlike memories or memorylike dreams sparing no expense. What it was really about though is the pursuit of authenticity. The lengths you'd go to, if nothing around you fel ...more
Brian Longtin
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A tough but rewarding read. Not tough as in dense -- the book is straightforward and compact -- but tough because it plunges you into the mind of a neurotic, obsessive, disaffected man as he relentlessly examines the deepest extremes of mundanity in an attempt to feel "real". A virtual tour of perspectives on the mind's relation to the world, I would love to discuss this with a philosophy professor, though in tone it felt closest to Camus' The Stranger. Lots to reflect on for yourself based on h ...more
Kobe Bryant
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This guy would have figured everything out if he just smoked some weed
Dec 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
The best thing about this book is the blue color on the cover of the edition I have.
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017

(3.5) In Remainder the unnamed narrator has experienced a traumatic accident and receives an enormous settlement as a result. Unsure of what to do with his new fortune, he fumbles around a bit until an incident of déjà vu propels him into a intricate full-scale recollection of a flat he'd once occupied. Immediately he decides to use his settlement funds to recreate not only the flat, but the entire building, down to every last detail, in order to 'feel real' again. Thus begins an increasingly el
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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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Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
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“All great enterprises are about logistics. Not genius or inspiration or flights of imagination, skill or cunning, but logistics.” 12 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.” 6 likes
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