Summary and book reviews of Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

Solar Bones

by Mike McCormack

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack X
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2017, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2018, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Chris Fredrick
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About this Book

Book Summary

Solar Bones is a masterwork that builds its own style and language one broken line at a time; the result is a visionary accounting of the now.

Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize
Winner of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year
An Irish Times Book Club Choice

A vital, tender, death-haunted work by one of Ireland's most important contemporary writers, Solar Bones is a celebration of the unexpected beauty of life and of language, and our inescapable nearness to our last end. It is All Souls Day, and the spirit of Marcus Conway sits at his kitchen table and remembers. In flowing, relentless prose, Conway recalls his life in rural Ireland: as a boy and man, father, husband, citizen. His ruminations move from childhood memories of his father's deftness with machines to his own work as a civil engineer, from transformations in the local economy to the tidal wave of global financial collapse.

Conway's thoughts go still further, outward to the vast systems of time and history that hold us all. He stares down through the "vortex of his being," surveying all the linked circumstances that combined to bring him into this single moment, and he makes us feel, if only for an instant, all the terror and gratitude that existence inspires.

Excerpt
Solar Bones

the bell
    the bell as
    hearing the bell as
        hearing the bell as standing here
        the bell being heard standing here
        hearing it ring out through the grey light of this
        morning, noon or night
        god knows
        this grey day standing here and
        listening to this bell in the middle of the day, the middle of
    the day bell, the Angelus bell in the middle of the day, ringing out
    through the grey light to
        here
        standing in the kitchen
 &...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

It took me some time to adjust to the book's style; I had to make a conscious choice to break with the expectations I brought to the text. But I am so grateful that I did. Reading this book felt a little bit like falling, a long exhale of life's pent-up anxieties. "This is how you get carried away," Marcus says. When I allowed myself to be carried away along the bumps between line breaks, it felt like a rush and a clatter toward an inner beauty and stillness...continued

Full Review (759 words).

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(Reviewed by Chris Fredrick).

Media Reviews

The Guardian (UK)
Excellence is always rare and often unexpected: we don't necessarily expect masterpieces even from the great. Mike McCormack's Solar Bones is exceptional indeed: an extraordinary novel by a writer not yet famous but surely destined to be acclaimed by anyone who believes that the novel is not dead and that novelists are not merely lit-fest fodder for the metropolitan middle classes.

The Literary Review (UK)
Hauntingly sad, but also frequently very funny ... Proust reconfigured by Flann O'Brien.

Booklist
Deserving a readership far larger than Irish-literature devotees, this is a work of bold risks and luminous creativity.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The latest from McCormack (Notes from a Coma) is a beautifully constructed novel that blends Beckett's torrential monologues with a realist portrait of small-town Ireland.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Widely praised, this book is a brilliant tour de force.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. This transcendent novel should expand McCormack's following on this side of the Atlantic and further establish him as a heavyweight of contemporary Irish fiction along with the likes of Anne Enright and Kevin Barry.

Author Blurb Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic
With stylistic gusto, and in rare, spare, precise and poetic prose, Mike McCormack gets to the music of what is happening all around us. One of the best novels of the year.

Author Blurb Eleanor Catton, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries
Pure enchantment from an otherworldly talent. I admired the hell out of this book.

Author Blurb Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others
In radiant, exquisite prose, Mike McCormick dilates time, erasing the line between the external, concrete world and the interior world of thought and feeling, memory and soul. Solar Bones is a deeply affecting, mesmerizing and quietly astonishing novel.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Angelus Prayer

Solar Bones is set in the county of Mayo in Ireland, where the narrator can distinctly hear the village church bell ringing its "six chimes of three across a minute and a half;" he refers to it as the Angelus bell.

The Angelus bell is essentially a church bell that rings as a reminder to recite the Angelus prayer. The Angelus prayer recounts the biblical event known as the Annunciation, the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she was to become the mother of Jesus, the son of God. The ringing of the bell seems to have come into wide use in the 17th century as a means of calling the Catholic faithful to recite the Angelus in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.

The Angelus takes its name from the ...

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