View Full Version : Tom McCarthy

19-03-2019, 03:08 AM
Anyone read him? I stumbled across his stuff relatively recently and haven't gotten round to any of it yet. Apparently Remainder is good and Satin Island seems as though it could be intriguing or appalling.

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Traumatized by an accident which involves "something falling from the sky" and leaves him eight and a half million pounds richer but hopelessly estranged from the world around him, Remainder's hero spends his time and money obsessively reconstructing and re-enacting vaguely remembered scenes and situations from his past: a large building with piano music in the distance, the familiar smells and sounds of liver frying and spluttering, lethargic cats lounging on roofs until they tumble off them...But when this fails to quench his thirst for authenticity, he starts reconstructing more and more violent events, as his repetition addiction spirals out of control.

Satin Island

When we first meet U., our narrator, he is waiting out a delay in the Turin airport. Clicking through corridors of trivia on his laptop he stumbles on information about the Shroud of Turin--and is struck by the degree to which our access to the truth is always mediated by a set of veils or screens, with any world built on those truths inherently unstable. A "corporate ethnographer," U. is tasked with writing the "Great Report," an ell-encompassing document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn, he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions. Madison, the woman he is seeing, is increasingly elusive, much like the particulars in the case of the recent parachutist's death with which U. is obsessed. Add to that his longstanding obsession with South Pacific cargo cults and his developing, inexplicable interest in oil spills. As he begins to wonder if the Great Report might remain a shapeless, oozing plasma, his senses are startled awake by a dream of an apocalyptic cityscape.

19-03-2019, 06:55 AM
I have read him - I really liked C - thought Satin Island less successful. I have also read quite a few of his essays - surprised he's not popped up on here before. i haven't read the Tintin book which is supposed to be his magnum opus.

he's clearly someone who wants to combine 'theory' with traditional story telling procedures but is also suspicious of those methods. When it's done well and doesn't become too arch then the writing bristles and fizzes as it does in C whereas when it becomes too self conscious it is just annoying - as it was for me in Satin Island.

19-03-2019, 04:20 PM
I read the two essays he did for LRB on Ulysses and 'realism and the real', but I can't really remember anything about them.

‘Ulysses’ and Its Wake - https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n12/tom-mccarthy/ulysses-and-its-wake

Writing Machines - https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n24/tom-mccarthy/writing-machines