I quit reading this novel the first time I tried it, maybe ten pages in. The voice seemed awfully deadpan, and the premise -- a guy is injured in a terrible accident and is paid lots money not to talk about it -- only sort of interesting. I kept going because Matt Tiffany at Condalmo likes it so much. I'm glad I did, because although my initial impressions weren't all wrong, and I found myself speed-reading through some tedious parts, in the end I was dumbstruck.
It's hard to even talk about, because so much of the pleasure of Remainder is in the strange and unexpected ways it builds and gathers. I guess I can say this much: after his accident, and with his almost unlimited resources, the protagonist feels an irresistible drive to recreate a building he sees in a vision. This drive -- where it comes from, how it changes, where it leads -- is what the book is about. What a strange thing for a book to be about!
It reminds me a bit of Magnus Mills, whose characters also undertake odd and possibly meaningless tasks in a deadpan fashion, but unlike Mills, McCarthy goes all the way with his ideas -- he follows through. It's been two days since I've finished it, but my brain still feels weird. I feel like Remainder had things to say about art, fiction, history, trauma, the 20th century, terrorism, math, memory -- everything.
Well, JRL's reading it now, and no doubt he'll be more eloquent when he posts about it.