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rclayton's books

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The White Castle (Paperback, 2001, Faber and Faber) 3 stars

A man returning home finds himself instead on a decades-long journey through the nature of …

The White Castle

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An Italian traveling to Naples has his ship commandeered by an Ottoman fleet and is taken as a slave. Incidental medical knowledge and some simply treated injuries lets him pass as a doctor, and he works his way into becoming a pasha’s favorite. His pleas for freedom are ignored, but he gets handed off as the personal slave of a man with whom he will work on important projects. The Italian finds his new master to be his double, but no one else seems to recognize the similarity. Their success at various projects brings them to the sultan’s attention, although the Italian’s refusal to renounce his Christianity means he remains in the background while his double gets the attention.

The tale seems commonplace; it begins with a note about a manuscript found in a box of forgotten documents. Pamuk turns the tale into an extended meditation on story telling and …

reviewed Remainder by Tom McCarthy

Remainder (2007, Vintage Books) 4 stars

"A man is severely injured in a mysterious accident, receives an outrageous sum in legal …


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A never-named man receives grace from the sky. Well, actually, he receives severe head trauma from the sky; grace comes later in the form of £8.5 million from the guilty party. Between those two events he relearns many of the things knocked out of his head, such as how to walk and eat. Remainder shows how and what happens when he tries to recover the things physical therapy left out.

At first he's at sea, in possession of an unfamiliar persona and an unfathomable amount of money with no idea of his next step. The poles of his choices are sketched by two friends at an impromptu celebration of his recovery and good fortune; one friend suggests an unlimited debauch of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the other suggests African philanthropy. He, however, makes a third choice. At another party he finds a crack in the bathroom wall. From …