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version
19-03-2019, 04:08 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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Remainder

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.

jenks
19-03-2019, 07:55 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.

version
19-03-2019, 05:20 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.

ĎUlyssesí 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

IdleRich
02-09-2019, 02:27 AM
I only just saw this thread so late response... but yeah, Remainder I thought was one of the most original and good recent books I've read. It's kinda like nothing else... at least until Synecdoche NY came out with the exact same idea, although they claimed they'd never read the book. In fairness it develops differently.
C is also worth reading, lots of it is fun but I'm not sure it added up to anything in the end, certainly not as much as Remainder did. The next one I haven't read.
I know that he is obsessed with Tintin and believes that Herge thought he was the rightful heir to the Belgian throne (or something) and that there are loads of secret messages and clues relating to this scattered throughout the Tintin book series. He also wrote about fifty essays and articles about the Tintin film that came out a few years back, basically saying that it was crap for millions of reason - one of which was that the filmmakers (Adam Buxton maybe?) had failed to grasp that the whole point of the books was to demonstrate Herge's claim to royal bloodline. In fairness I watched the film in the cinema in Paris with a French friend and he pretty much agreed to the extent that he almost cried and he wouldn't do anything after we went home until he'd watched the whole cartoon series from his childhood to cheer himself up. But I digress.
Isn't McCarthy also heavily involved in the Necronautical Society which aim to travel through death or something?

http://necronauts.net/manifestos/1999_times_manifesto.html

version
02-09-2019, 03:10 AM
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... 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.

Dissensus and the dematerialisation thread in a nutshell.

version
02-09-2019, 03:50 AM
Isn't McCarthy also heavily involved in the Necronautical Society which aim to travel through death or something?

Apparently it's some sort of art project/collective:


Since 1999 McCarthy has been 'general secretary' of a 'semi-fictitious organisation' he co-founded with his friend[18] the philosopher Simon Critchley[19] called the International Necronautical Society (INS) "devoted to mind-bending projects that would do for death what the Surrealists had done for sex".[2][20] Having failed to interest publishers in his novels in 2001-2, he made art projects under the INS name.[21][22] McCarthy handed out his International Necronautical Society or INS manifestos at a mock art fair organised by artist Gavin Turk.[22] The INS operates through publications, live events, media interventions and more conventional art exhibitions.

john eden
02-09-2019, 02:39 PM
He was influenced by the 90s end-of-DTP (but pre-web) counter culture stuff like the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, London Psychogeoographical Association, Stewart Home (necrocards), etc. That's where the INS came from.

Had a curry with him and a bunch of people once and he seemed OK but there was a bit of snippiness about him from the more anti-careerist keep it real types.

I've not read his stuff but probably should.

IdleRich
02-09-2019, 06:40 PM
He was influenced by the 90s end-of-DTP (but pre-web) counter culture stuff like the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, London Psychogeoographical Association, Stewart Home (necrocards), etc. That's where the INS came from.
Had a curry with him and a bunch of people once and he seemed OK but there was a bit of snippiness about him from the more anti-careerist keep it real types.
I've not read his stuff but probably should.
I was thinking about AAA and stuff as I wrote that, assumed it must have been an influence.
Anyway, I would like to repeat my endorsement for Remainder, at the time i really thought it was amazing and I'd recommend it to everyone.... er, and if you don't like it, maybe I remembered it wrong it was a while back.

version
02-09-2019, 06:58 PM
Is C as much of a Pynchon rip off as it sounds?

IdleRich
02-09-2019, 07:07 PM
Um, I didn't think that when I read it. It just has loads of random and, not exactly unrelated, but not really following on from each other segments. I don't remember the writing style being like Pynchon. The overall effect might be similar but it's so much smaller, I think that the size of Pynchon books is part of how they achieve what they do (er, apart from Lot 49 obviously which you always have to say when you talk about Pynchon) and a short book by another writer never reminds me of him. My favourite bits of the book were when he ended up as a heroin addict in London and he's talking about how as part of that underclass you see another world imposed on the usual London world that others see - magic doors to paradise here, people in the know shuffling towards them, dealers having the keys to the kingdom etc. For me something quite beautiful in the way he drew a parallel between Narnia or E Nesbit style magic worlds for children and this subculture that is perceived as an underclass in a poetic way. Or that's how I remember it anyway.
But yeah, I suppose some of the topics - a world war, the radio stuff - are reminiscent of Pynchon.

version
02-09-2019, 07:12 PM
The title instantly makes you think of V. too.

version
02-09-2019, 07:47 PM
It does me anyway.

version
02-09-2019, 08:13 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJIbMIzGCGo

version
02-09-2019, 08:17 PM
It's a bit Adam Curtis that clip.

IdleRich
02-09-2019, 11:14 PM
Now you say it, C is a bit like V as a title yeah. I definitely spotted that.

version
02-09-2019, 11:19 PM
John Berger's G. too.

version
02-09-2019, 11:21 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if all three were a nod to that bit in Ulysses about the single letter book titles:

"Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W."

IdleRich
03-09-2019, 12:15 AM
Oh you're way ahead of me now. I'm trying to remember how the book justified being called C, I can't though. I thought maybe it stood for code or something but that doesn't sound right.
Honestly though, although in synopsis C sounds very interesting, I thought Remainder was way way better.

version
03-09-2019, 12:18 AM
He's got another called Men in Space which sounds Pynchon-y too.

Set in a Central Europe rapidly fragmenting after the fall of communism, Men in Space follows a cast of dissolute Bohemians, political refugees, football referees, deaf police agents, assassins, and stranded astronauts as they chase a stolen icon painting from Sofia to Prague and beyond. The iconís melancholy orbit is reflected in the various charactersí ellipses and near misses as they career vertiginously through all kinds of space: physical, political, emotional, and metaphysical. What emerges is a vision of humanity adrift in history, and a world in a state of disintegration.

version
03-09-2019, 12:20 AM
There's another Tom McCarthy who wrote a book called The Greatest Sniper Stories Ever Told and yet another who was in The Wire and wrote Pixar's Up.

IdleRich
03-09-2019, 12:38 AM
I always forget Men in Space. I've not read it but I understand it was based on his time living in the Czech Republic.
I always mix him up with the artist who did George Bush and the Seven Dwarves (Paul McCarthy?).

version
04-09-2019, 04:01 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLU6prvOl8E

IdleRich
04-09-2019, 05:16 PM
Interesting thanks... he's a cheerful little chappie