For our last book club of 2017, we read Solar Bones by Mike McCormack. It’s an Irish novel in the tradition of Joyce and Beckett, the thoughts of an older man chronicled in a single sentence. It wasn’t an easy read, and not everyone managed to finish it, but we did have a lot to discuss. The opinions on the novel were very different and not everyone knew beforehand that the novel was going to be a hard one, so it was fun to recount our experiences with it. Instead of a lengthy review, we’ll recommend some other books you might want to try and we’ll share some discussion questions in case you’re doing research for your own book club.
Reading recommendations for Solar Bones
Mike McCormack’s first book Getting it in the Head, was a collection of short stories, one that immediately won him praise and adoration. It was written in 1996 and the synopsis starts like this: Prepare to enter a world where the infatuation with death, ruin and destruction is total. So you’re probably in for a fun read.
Sticking with contemporary and experimental Irish fiction, we recommend A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride. This book was the talk of the book town in 2015 and just like Solar Bones, it has an unconventional narrative. Less stream of consciousness and more poetic and intense, McBride writes about a girl’s relationship with her brother.
According to McCormack, there are three great Irish writers that define their literary legacy. These are James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Flann O’Brien. I hadn’t heard of the latter, so for us non-Irish readers, this might be a good moment to get acquainted. His most famous novel is The Third Policeman, narrated by a murderer stuck in a police station. I’ve read many comparisons to Kafka and apparently this book was a big influence on Lost, so prepare for weirdness.
Discussion Questions for Solar Bones
- The book is written as one continuous sentence. Did you enjoy this and did you think it was necessary for the story?
- There are a lot of line breaks in the text. What do you think these line breaks mean?
- Did you know beforehand that Marcus was dead? Discuss if this impacted your reading of the book.
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