#CBR7 Review #41: Remainder by Tom McCarthy

First things first: a little shameless self-promotion. I’m a doctor now!!!!!! I passed my dissertation defense on Wednesday. It was a rigorous experience, but I am incredibly glad to have gone through it. I’m excited about getting my work ready for publication, and even more excited that I never have to defend my dissertation again. And apparently, my institution secretly makes you a Time Lord when you earn a PhD–the elevators by the conference room I was in would begin to randomly open after I was done. There were plenty of jokes about me being The Doctor and all (I know those elevators are just wonky, but it’s more fun to pretend, obviously). Thanks to all of you awesome CBR folk for your encouragement these past few years! You’ve been a bigger boon than you know. 🙂

On to this book review, though. My graduate director at my MA institution had recommended this book, and after taking his amazing class in literature and terrorism, I’m highly inclined to trust T’s suggestions. It’s definitely very different in its tone and construction. An unnamed man is injured in an accident he can’t remember. He’s in a coma and then when he regains consciousness, he discovers that he is the recipient of a settlement awarded in 8.5 million pounds. The catch is that he can’t discuss the accident at all. Frustrated by his lack of memory, the protagonist seeks to find something linking him to this blank in his mind, and that’s when his vision begins. This highly specific pseudo-memory sets off a chain of events that take the novel to its shocking conclusion.

I was not prepared for the progression of the novel to reach the conclusion it did, I’ll say that much. But it was engaging and riveting, even as the recreation of the vision was at turns banal and frustrating. But isn’t that the progression in memory? Specific, frustrating, and even unattainable though we try to relive it as faithfully as possible. I’ll definitely teach this novel at some point.


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