What an utter waste of time.
Tom McCarthy is fast becoming the Kate Winslet of the literary world-so much of his work is exceptional, so now they nominate him based on the assumption that this book is good too (Yeah, Winslet, I’m coming for you. Nice accent in Steve Jobs)
I picked up McCarthy’s Satin Island because it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. There’s only been a few times where I profoundly disliked a book that received that honor, but this is one of them. Look, I love metaphors about life and society as much as the next bitch, but at a certain point, something actually has to happen. And for all of the Big Ideas and fancy window dressing, nothing of interest happened in this book. At one point, I actually closed the book and thought, “What if this book is supposed to be a parody, skewering the preferred obnoxious literary clichés from the latest crop of male, white authors? It’s gotta be that, right?” It wasn’t.
Satin Island is about an anthropologist named U (really), who’s tasked by The Company (still really) to compile the “Great Report” an all-encompassing document meant to be “the first and last word on our age…name what’s taking place right now.” U goes about this by looking at maps at oil spills and studying suspicious skydiving deaths. Meanwhile, he’s sleeping with this chick who’s down for anything, except talking about her feelings (I think the only female character in the book, I don’t know. My brain has already started to evict the memories of this book). That thin plot only serves as an excuse for U to pontificate for a mercifully short 180 pages about the meaning of stuff. And things.
At the end of the day, I keep circling back to the same thought-what was the fucking point of this book? I have no idea.