Friday, June 13, 2008

REMAINDER & THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES

I've been reading a lot lately to fill the void between finishing a project and starting a new one. I think I found the next thing I want to work on but I am still in reading momentum. My floor is covered with so many new books, and my list keeps getting longer.

I am really trying to understand all the hype around Tom McCarthy's novel REMAINDER. It's been getting huge reviews and awards from lots of venues I respect. I read the book several months ago on a strong recommendation. I don't get it. Yeah, the book has a great concept (guy gets a ton of money in settlement after getting hit in the head and losing his memory, doesn't know what to do, starts buying places and stuff to recreate feelings he remembers from before the accident) but the execution of the book is so bland. Not even bland to the point of 'I want to stop reading this' but bland just like 'I am here.' I like the conceptual execution of the book and the lack of resolution but so much more could have been done with this. The writing itself had little to offer. It felt like something I would have read in a workshop and thought, yeah he'll probably sell this. The same compelling situation kept happening over and over with slight variations, and the explanation of this in the reviews I've read compares it to visual art, but really, this is a book I feel like anyone could have written if they thought of it. It has no 'personality.' It feels like a good idea drawn to its full execution without too much imagination. Maybe like a computer wrote it? Did a computer write it? That would be neat.

Anyway, if someone I know with similar taste read this and liked it, I would be interested to hear why.

Right now I am reading Roberto Bolano's THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES, for the same reason I read REMAINDER, that being that I wanted to see what all the hype is. I like Bolano's writing okay so far, and the story has me turning pages, but I still haven't seen why he is such a revolutionary. I swear if this book turns into a rebellious romance, I am going to cut someone open.

7 comments:

peter b. said...

I am reading savage detectives right now too. about half way through and I can't decide if I care. although I don't especially not like it.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

i was afraid of having that reaction. i feel that way now at like pg 100, can't decide if i care. it's not really worth it to read a 660 pp book if you don't care. I guess we'll see.

I don't trust poets.

Keith said...

Don't make me cut YOU open. I hope I'm a trustworthy chap. I'm also newly British.

peter b. said...

the format changes. i don't remember how many pages in it was. with mixed results. my memory isn't so good. I can't keep track of all of those names. and I don't know which of those people are real and which ones are fictional.

peter b. said...

or if any are real. i recognize a couple names.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

yeah i recognize some too. i am too bored to continue, esp with no hope for improvement. let me know if you make it.

Josh Maday said...

i sense that the bolano backlash has begun. as much press as his work is getting now, it is inevitable.