Mike McCormack – Solar Bones

Solar Bones

Solar Bones is notorious for two things. One is that the book is comprised of one 223 page long sentence and that there’s the famous ‘spoiler’ if you have the Tramp Press edition (which I have, the Canongate edition omits the spoiler). Oh and it won the Goldsmiths prize First of all don’t let the one sentence thing bug you. McCormack still uses paragraphs, however they are connected with words such as then, but, when etc so it’s readable. Secondly don’t let the spoiler affect you. Treat it like a game and figure out how the main protagonist came to that predicament.

On a surface level you could say it’s about a man, Marcus Conway, reflecting on life but obviously the book goes into more depth. Solar Bones, mostly is about politics, the absurdity of government decisions, the drive to be popular, the lengths a politician will go to in order to pander to the media, which is another big theme in the novel. Here media is seen to shock and forecast doom in every possible way. In this regard one could say that there are parallels with Ali Smith as she tackles the same topics in her latest book, Autumn.

Also there are elements of Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, in the sense that everyday occurrences play a big role for the main protagonist. One example is when Marcus is eating a sandwich and finally realising how great life can be (although what happens afterwards kind of makes that premise sour) and there are further ‘Satin Island’ moments in the novel. However as banal as they seem they are important and form some poignant allegories, my personal favourite being the cake knife/married life section.

McCormack makes sure the grey cells are buzzing about in Solar Bones and as with most of the books on this year’s Booker longlist, the novel will benefit from a second reading.

One last thing. Is the one sentence used to prove to us readers that life is like one long sentence? I noticed the book does not end with a full stop so is McCormack hinting that no matter what life goes on? As I stated Solar Food is a novel that has long lasting after effects (and this is just one of the questions I have), which, for me, is a sign of a great novel.

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