Very normal

NOTHING much happens in Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island. An anthropologist, who works in-house at a big commercial firm, writes about Claude Lévi-Strauss, parachutes, oil spills, his love life, and his modern-day theories about civilization. The novel reads like a diary. The prose is magnificent.

“The terminal’s interior, despite its new façade, was dingy. Parts of it were boarded up, awaiting repair. The smell of popcorn, hot dogs, pizza and donuts hung about the concourse, impregnating air that was much warmer than the air outside—cloying and heavy, too. People were milling about, waiting for the ferry: normal, everyday folk who commuted on it daily. A few of them wore suits—cheap, polyester ones, the standard-issue outfit of the low-white-collar ranks; but most wore plain, casual clothes. They looked bored, frumpy, tired, unhealthy, overweight, and generally just very, very normal.”

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