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Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
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Solar Bones (original 2016; edition 2017)

by Mike McCormack (Author)

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2521671,276 (3.95)29
"On All Souls Day, the late Marcus Conway returns home. Solar Bones captures in a single relentless sentence the life and death of this rural Irish engineer, and his place in the globally interconnected 21st century. The book takes in local municipal failures and global financial collapse, the quotidian pleasures of family, ancient history and the latest headlines, the living and the dead. A vital, tender, acerbic, warm, and death-haunted work one of Ireland's most important contemporary novelists, Solar Bones builds its own style and language one broken line at a time. The result is visionary accounting of the now"--… (more)
Member:jbpjackson
Title:Solar Bones
Authors:Mike McCormack (Author)
Info:Soho Press (2017), 224 pages
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Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (2016)

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» See also 29 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I had already bought a copy of this book before the Booker longlist was announced, because it won the Goldsmiths Prize and was well received by reviewers whose opinions I trust.

The whole book is a single sentence monologue, which tells quite a conventional story of a mid-life crisis but is rather more interesting than that would suggest, since the topics it covers are wide-ranging and universal. The narrator is a middle-aged engineer, who works for a local council in Mayo. I was aware that there was some discussion last year about an apparent spoiler on the cover of the Irish original, which does not appear on the UK Canongate edition. Apparently the author intended the reader to be aware of this, and there are certainly plenty of hints, not least in the opening.

Given its unconventional structure, the book is surprisingly easy to read, and despite the lack of full stops there are plenty of line breaks, either to indicate reported speech or to suggest possible break points. The competition is such that I think this one is unlikely to win this year's prize, but it was an interesting one to read. ( )
  bodachliath | Jun 18, 2019 |
Marcus Conway is a ghost. On All Souls Day, he sits at the dinner table waiting for his family to return, and unspools a stream-of-concious monologue about this life written in a single sentence (this is the second single-sentence novel I've read recently!). The single sentence isn't as apparent in the audiobook - deftly narrated by Timothy Reynolds - but I do notice that he starts phrase with "and" a lot, adding a certain rhythmn to the prose. Marcus talks about his own father's death, his sometimes troubled relationship with his wife and children, and his work as a civic engineer. Local politics also plays a big part of his story, from voting to a politicians thickheaded insistence on building a school that's not structurally sound, to even the awful stomach virus that infects his community - including his wife - caused by bad sanitation. Over time, Marcus unravels the details of his own death and comes to terms with his mortality. The thing about this novel is that for all the experimental nature of its narrative, Marcus is a perfectly ordinary person doing ordinary things. McCormack's writing unveils the fascinating stories within the everyday person. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Feb 7, 2019 |
I appreciate what the author is trying to do here, but it's not the kind of gimmick I can get into. It's not an enjoyable or immersive reading experience for me. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This novel may take a little initial effort to start, due to its "stream of consciousness" continuous narrative, but once accepted, I got caught up in the flowing nature of the story as the narrator passes from one memory to another, describing events, thoughts and experiences in a not unusual life - married with two children, working as a civil engineer in the west of Ireland (Louisburgh and Westport, County Mayo).
But although the narrative drive of the story might sound slight, I found myself caught up in the stories, ordinary stories, interspersed with humour and moments when I thought the narrator an idiot, but a believable human idiot.
The narrator talks about family, art, economics and politics - one train of thought flowing into another story in an interesting, intriguing fashion. I wanted to know where it was all going and I felt sad, very sad, to leave Marcus Conway and his stories.

This novel is long-listed for the Man Booker 2017, and having already read several of the other long-listed books this year, I would hope that it has a good chance of at least making the shortlist, as this deserves to be more widely read.

To quote from the start, to give a flavour of the style:

the bell
the bell as
hearing the bell as
hearing the bell as standing here
the bell being heard standing here
hearing it ring out through the grey light of this
morning, noon or night
god knows
this grey day standing here and
listening to this bell in the middle of the day, the middle of the day bell, the Angelus bell in the middle of the day, ringing out through the grey light

Four and a half stars! ( )
1 vote CarltonC | May 14, 2018 |
If your work has substance it does not require a gimmick. That is my firm belief.

This book was written in one sentence from start to end. It’s a story of a middle aged engineer in Dublin sitting at his dining table waiting for his wife and children to come back from his funeral, contemplating about his life. The story lacks true substance and meanders around.

This was long listed for the Booker’s prize. I really question the award itself now. ( )
  mausergem | Mar 30, 2018 |
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