Traumatised by an accident which involves something falling from the skyA" and leaves him eight and a half million pounds rich- er 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.
McCarthy's debut novel, set in London, takes a clever conceit and pumps it up with vibrant prose to such great effect that the narrative's pointlessness is nearly a nonissue. The unnamed narrator, who suffers memory loss as the result of an accident that "involved something falling from the sky," receives an 8.5 million settlement and uses the money to re-enact, with the help of a "facilitator" he hires, things remembered or imagined. He buys an apartment building to replicate one that has come to him in a vision and then populates it with people hired to re-enact, over and over again, the mundane activities he has seen his imaginary neighbors performing. He stages both ordinary acts (the fixing of a punctured tire) and violent ones (shootings and more), each time repeating the events many times and becoming increasingly detached from reality and fascinated by the scenarios his newfound wealth has allowed him to create even though he professes he doesn't "want to understand them." McCarthy's evocation of the narrator's absorption in his fantasy world as it cascades out of control is brilliant all the way through the abrupt climax.