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Men in Space

by Tom McCarthy

A picture of a disintegrating world mirrored in the structure of the book which consists of a series of loosely linked sketches. An astronaut drifts through space - following the breakup of the USSR he has no country to bring him back to Earth. Other characters are all also adrift in different ways: a football referee, gangsters, an art critic and a police agent. The reader’s job is to piece together these fragments to make a coherent whole. A challenging and ambitious read which rewards close attention. Best read in a few long sessions.

Extract

As he copies the original's hair onto both his paintings he moves his own head from side to side, watching in the mirror the way the light slips over yellow ochre, raw sienna, ivory black, glazing it with umbers. And if he opens his mouth just like this man is opening his .... It gets so he can feel the saint's way from the original onto the two new boards, channel the multiplication not just through his hands but through his entire body.

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