The Bottom Line: ‘Satin Island’ By Tom McCarthy

Satin Island
by Tom McCarthy
Knopf, $24.00
Published Feb. 17, 2015

The Bottom Line is a weekly review combining plot description and analysis with fun tidbits about the book.

What we think:
Last year Tom McCarthy wrote thoughtfully and passionately against the merits of Realism — that is, the mode of writing that prefers to describe events straightforwardly, under the pretense that such a style conveys truth more accurately than, say, stories about magicians or time travel. He dismisses the latest crop of Realists lauded by critics, namely Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose My Struggle is said to weave the epic and the quotidian together in the space of a single paragraph. Instead, McCarthy praises writers such as William S. Burroughs, whose photography keenly shows the approach he takes in his writing. Burroughs cuts up photos of city streets and reassembles them, forming fragmented images and explaining, “Consciousness is a cut-up; life is a cut-up.”

McCarthy’s reverence for Burroughs is apparent in his latest novel, a slim and abstract book called Satin Island. The story begins in Turin, with its protagonist U. describing the famous shroud discovered there in the 19th century. He dismisses the myth behind the object — that it encased Jesus —> Read More Here


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