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Praise for Notes from a Coma
"A cross between 1984 and The X-Files.... Notes From a Coma establishes McCormack as one of the most original and important voices in contemporary Irish fiction.”
─Irish Times (original review)
"The greatest Irish novel of the decade just ended."
"McCormack's language is lovely, lyrical...his humor is dark, macabre; the words glimmer like a spell."
“The testimony about JJ's life is written with a sad and touching simplicity.... Intriguing.”
─Wall Street Journal
“Subtle but haunting storytelling mixes with an insightful examination into the ethics of the penal system to produce an unusual and unforgettable read.”
─Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
“A major talent in Irish fiction.....McCormack slyly and brilliantly satirizes, among many other things, our fixations with celebrity and high-priced medical technology.”
“Additional events and commentary take place literarily underneath these chapters in long footnotes.... [They underscore] how unique and noteworthy this unusual novel truly is — and why McCormack undeniably deserves a wider audience on this side of the globe.”
“An intriguing novel that touches on many of the moral and ethical questions of the day. Mike McCormack is one to watch.”
“A great work of literary/psychological fiction...well worth the read.”
─A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
“Are you ready for something mind-bending, something intelligent, introspective, and quintessentially Irish? Five men volunteer to enter a comatose state to test a new idea for incarceration of criminals. The novel makes a subtle statement on today’s politics, spirituality, and even celebrity worship.”
—Mary T. of R.J. Julia Booksellers
—Mary T. of R.J. Julia Booksellers
"Compelling....A story of politics, psychology, metaphysics, and family that defies easy classification."
Praise for Mike McCormack
"McCormack's obsessions at times converge with those explored by Ian McEwan, Will Self and J. G. Ballard, but his clever ideas and fluid, gracefully morbid style are all his own."
"When venturing into the realm of the macabre, a writer gains a distinct advantage if he has a sense of discipline and a sense of humor ... Mike McCormack has both to spare.... Like parables in their easy transcendence of setting and time, the most audacious stories are classics."
─The New York Times Book Review
Posted March 22, 2013
Like well-crafted counterpoint, Mike McCormack's Notes from a Coma is made up of independent, yet interdependent, parts. Two parts, in this case. The first is the "beautifully rendered look at small-town Irish life" and the life of JJ O'Malley, told in five voices, each of whom is being interviewed by an unknown person. Here the text flows naturally and comfortably. The second part occurs in the footnotes (which are long, often 4-6 pages!). There lies a deeply cerebral exploration of the history, ethics, and various implications of the Somnos project. It was a challenge to switch back and forth between the easy tone and style of the main text and the difficult passages that make up the footnotes. This duality was certainly a unique way of reading and took some getting used to; it also highlighted McCormack's versatility and skill as a writer.
Thinking about the book as a whole, I feel the title "Notes from a Coma" is very poignant. The word "coma" ended up having a deeper meaning than I first considered...
I felt the book ended much too soon. What were JJ's experiences during those 3 months? What was the general population privy to that raised the Somnos volunteers to such celebrity status? Brief moments would pique my curiosity, but then never develop. That was a little disappointing. I suppose these things were simply left up to the imagination, but I enjoyed McCormack's writing style so much I wanted to read those details.
I did expect more science fiction. Coma patients hooked up and feeding out to the Internet?! That has so many possibilities! It's the type of sci-fi I get excited about reading. But this isn't that type of novel. There are hints of science fiction, but ultimately this is a great work of literary/psychological fiction. It is well worth the read.