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“not a particular one, but just some ad with beautiful young people in it having fun”

with 6 comments

From Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, which I’m rereading to teach this week. The protagonist is sitting at a coffee place in Soho and is watching people on Old Compton Street outside:

They reminded me of an ad – not a particular one, but just some ad with beautiful young people in it having fun. The people in the street now had the same ad in mind as me. I could tell. In their gestures and their movements they acted out the roles of the ad’s characters: the way they turned around and walked in one direction while still talking in another, how they threw their heads back when they laughed, the way they let their mobiles casually slip into their low-slung trouser pockets. Their bodies and faces buzzed with glee, exhilaration – a jubilant awareness that for once, just now, at this particular right-angled intersection, they didn’t have to sit in the cinema or living room in front of a TV and watch other beautiful people laughing and hanging out: they could be beautiful young people themselves. See? Just like me: completely second hand.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I’m a little doubtful that McCarthy has within him a novel as good as Remainder, which I think holds up pretty well to multiple readings.

    Brad Johnson

    March 7, 2012 at 3:00 am

  2. I agree on both counts. Surprised how much I’m enjoying this one this time around – more than before.


    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

  3. apologies if i’m being pedantic, but you must mean *another* novel as good as Remainder? if that’s the case, why don’t either of you think he can repeat it? haven’t read him so this is pure curiosity, not a challenge


    March 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    • Sure, good point. That said, and obvs I can’t speak for Brad, but there’s something about the direction that his career has taken since then (I know – it’s not been a long “since then”) that suggests he’s headed in the wrong direction. I’ll try to say more when I’ve got time.

      Remainder is very good though. Really enjoying it this time around, tempted to write something (on here, but actually also “for real”). Something to do with Remainder and my old preoccupation, the aggregate.


      March 7, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      • right… i need to get on and read some McCarthy really.

        by the way, don’t know if you watch 30 Rock, I don’t, but just came across this quote:

        “I was reminded of Steve Martin’s sinister entrepreneur Gavin Volure in Tina Fey’s TV comedy 30 Rock, who made corporate ads full of dreamy images but which failed to disclose what they were actually selling.)”

        from here


        March 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

  4. Yes, I meant *another* novel as good as Remainder, Sorry for the confusion there. It’s probably an unfair assessment on my part, but I did say “a little doubtful,” so it’s not as though I’ve given up all hope. I suppose I just wanted more from C.

    Brad Johnson

    March 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm

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