Marcus Conway is at his kitchen table, listening to the church bell toll in his small Western Irish town of Lewisburgh. In some sense, that is the entirety of Mike McCormack’s 2017 Man Booker long-listed Solar Bones (Soho, $25). But told in the manner of Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine’s book-in-the-span-of-an-escalator-ride, it’s really about much more. Marcus’s mind cycles through a variety of episodes surrounding the night his young daughter has her big art opening, each piece testing his duties as a good family member, a good worker, and a good political citizen. Picking out where one piece ends and the next begins, however, is tricky and one of the greatest pleasures in this book. Yes, this novel is one sentence long, but this is no cause for intimidation. McCormack’s writing is so lucid, conversational, and well-paced that Solar Bones counts as one of this year’s (or any year’s) most unconventional page-turners. Nor does McCormack use his virtuosity as a mere gimmick; rather, it’s one with the underlying emotions of this book and this unforgettable character, Marcus, who wants to hold together everything he knows, the joys and the struggles both, for as long as he has left.
Solar Bones - Mike McCormack