Craving Authenticity: a reading of Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island

“Reading Tom McCarthy’s fiction induces a certain kind of mania,” writes Duncan White in The Telegraph. “It demands to be unpacked and decoded, charted and mapped. Every chapter – no, every sentence – invites you to plunge deeper into the book’s dark pool, groping for the submerged pattern. It is as if you are trying to read two books at once. There is the conventional one – paper and ink – but this is only the gateway to the second, which is a vast virtual blueprint of the novel’s hidden architecture, detailing its dizzying connections. Reading a McCarthy novel is like being in a McCarthy novel: everything is part of a fizzing network, the scope of which can never be fully apprehended.”

It’s an uncannily accurate description of this uncannily accurate novel. I recognized the sensation instantly: that induced mania.