Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Man Booker long list 2017)

IMG_4294 Never have I read a book like this, one long sentence with no periods in it whatsoever, just a conma thrown in here and there but that does not make it any less readable or powerful as Marcus Conway reviews his life as an engineer, husband, and father at the kitchen table, waiting for his wife and kids

the wife and kids whom we are told about so clearly we feel we have inhabited their home and physically suffered Mairead’s illness from the virus she caught after attending their daughter’s art exhibition in the city, an exhibition of art done in her own blood; or Darragh’s Skype sessions from Australia where  he has temporarily landed; or fought the powers who want to pour cement for the school’s foundation even though Marcus knows the foundation will not hold,

for he knows of everything that will not hold and can name it all, from politics to infidelity to illness to raising one’s children to ultimately, dying.

I cannot imagine a book I will want to win the Man Booker Prize more than this one. You surely must read it.


A quote which contains the title, but by no means a summary of the novel:

“…just before the world collapses

mountains, rivers and lakes

acres, roods and perches

into oblivion, drawn down into that fissure in creation where everything is consumed in the raging tides and swells of non-being, the physical world

gone down in flames

mountains, rivers and lakes and pulling with it also all those human rhythms that bind us together and draw the world into a community, those daily

rites, rhthyms and rituals

upholding the world like solar bones, that rarefied amalgam of time and light whose extension through every minute of the day is visible from the moment I get up in the morning and stand at the kitchen window with a mug of tea in my hand, watching the first cars of the day passing on the road, every one of them known to me….


(Solar Bones was sent to me by SoHo Press, a most timely and precious gift.)

16 thoughts on “Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Man Booker long list 2017)”

  1. I’ve ordered it from the UK cause I can’t wait till September. I love this kind of review, in the style of the book, and though I haven’t read the source material yet, I think you did really well!


    1. Laura, you are very kind because I cannot come close to imitating the power of his writing. It is really a spectacular book, I think, thebimsges so real and the ideas so pertinent. Let’s talk when you’ve read it, please.


    1. Rereading what I put down last night, I can see how it comes across as only heavy, complicated stuff; dark and depressing. But, that wasn’t the experience I felt reading it as much as how I felt what he was telling me was so real. It is set in Ireland, yet the emotions about parenting and marriage and the world in its current state are surely universal.


        1. It is hard to imagine the power of his writing, which totally swept me up. I felt it in my gut, but not in the dark, hopeless way I did with some books (such an The Narrow Road to the Deep North). I felt his indepth review of his life, and somehow understood the way he questioned politics, history, the “antics” of his children and beauty of his marriage.

          I don’t think the “difficulty” lies with your imagination as much as it does with how hard it is to convey the special quality of this novel.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the one that jumped out at me from the list to read. I’m more intrigued now, so your review worked for me.


    1. It is so very well worth reading, Annabel. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

      That said, the list this year is incredible! I’ve read three already, and each of them is better than most of what was on the list last year.


      1. To my chagrin, I’ve only read Auster (and did love that brick). I think it probably is a good list, but it feels a little safe – Smith and Roy would get on it just for turning up, so to speak, but I accept your enthusiasm for it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Agreed about Smith and Roy (made me laugh!) and of course we have to have The Underground Railroad (which I have not yet read), but there are others which are so interesting and look so promising! Let’s keep chatting as we work through them; I value your opinion.


  3. This is a creative review, Bellezza. Thank you for this. I think I will take some time to get to this book.


  4. Bravo, it’s only when one tries on the “masters” hat that one can truly perceive the known and unknown difficulties a creative writer experiences when he sets out to dazzle us, and dazzle me he did with a beautifully told and imagined story that captured me right up to the last Big Bang. Mjh


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