Thursday, April 30, 2009

REMAINDER by Tom McCarthy (2005)

One of the boys at school told me this was the best book he's read this year, and he offered to loan it to me. He's a fairly discerning reader, so I thought I'd give it a try.

REMAINDER opens with the narrator explaining that he has survived an accident which involved "something falling from the sky." His lawyer has negotiated a large settlement whereby his client (always unnamed) will receive over 8 million pounds, if he agrees to never take legal action against the culpable parties.

Friends have suggestions for how to spend this windfall--including buying coke and more coke, hiring hookers off which to snort coke, setting up a foundation to provide humanitarian aid. However, the survivor is not terrible interested. Instead he decides to hire someone to completely recreate one of the distinct memories he has--of living in a run-down building where a pianist stumbles over the same part of a concerto and a frumpy middle-aged woman cooks liver every day.

By hiring actors and set designers to fulfill this re-enactment fantasy, our man hopes to reboot his lost memories. What happens instead is rather sinister. He takes on the persona of a god in charge of his world and moves beyond controlling his apartment complex to re-enacting neighborhood crimes including murders of drug lords.

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