Theory of Remainders

Theory of Remainders

by Scott Dominic Carpenter


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At fifty-two, psychiatrist Philip Adler is divorced, alone, and gutted of passion. When a funeral draws him back to his ex-wife's homeland of France, the trip reunites him with a trauma he has struggled to forget: the brutal death of his teenage daughter fifteen years earlier. Prodded by his former brother-in-law and stirred by the unspent embers of his marriage, he embarks on a mission to resolve lingering questions about this past, hoping to heal himself along the way. The search leads to a disturbed man who may hold more answers than anyone expects-if only Philip can hear what he's trying to say.

A suspenseful literary novel set in the lush backgrounds of Normandy, Theory of Remainders explores the secret ties between love, trauma, and language.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988904903
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
Publication date: 05/22/2013
Pages: 286
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

A professor of literature at Carleton College (MN), Scott Dominic Carpenter is the author of the recent collection This Jealous Earth (MG Press 2013), which was described as “charmingly nostalgic” (Publisher's Weekly) and “incredibly moving” (The Rumpus). The New Podler Review named it a “Best Book of 2012,” and author Siri Hustvedt called the collection “psychologically acute and elegantly written… By turns sad, funny, tender, and alarming.” A Pushcart Prize nominee, Carpenter has published broadly in literary journals. His work has been included in Best Indie Lit New England 2012.
His website is at

What People are Saying About This

Tripp Ryder

Carpenter creates an incredible sense of place as he evokes Normandy and its people. The writing, elegant and subtle, draws the reader into this thoroughly gripping tale. —Tripp Ryder, President, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association

Alison Feigh

There are no easy solutions when trauma is at the heart of the story… Theory of Remainders provides the reader with an emotionally rich portrayal of the experience of loss that looks past easy solutions and instead digs deep into human connections. —Alison Feigh, Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

Alice LaPlante

This beautifully written psychological thriller does more than keep us on the edge of our seat. Theory of Remainders explores the nature of familial relationships—how essential they are to our humanity, and how difficult it is to survive their loss. —Alice Laplante, Author of Turn of Mind.

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Theory of Remainders 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Besides being a well-written and engaging read with intriguing word play, this novel speaks to universal themes of love and loss, the pull of family relationships, the power of language and memory, and the healing that can be found in community. The world of Phillip Adler became my world and his search for truth and meaning were mine. There was no disappointment, just amazing unexpected twists and surprises. I loved this book and I recommend it highly! It draws you in like a good detective story but entertains you far beyond this simple pleasure. I loved the complex characters, clever linguistic puzzles, and most of all the rich portrait of the small town of Yvetot that appears as yet another protagonist of this multi-layered story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very intense. Intelligent. Unpredictable. Kept me intrigued.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Theory of Remainders is a haunting thriller about a man’s search for—and subsequent obsession with— the truth, the connections developed with places as well as with people, and the associations made with and acceptance (or denial) of the tragedies that befall us. Mr. Carpenter deftly paints a haunted portrait of Philip Adler, a wretchedly wrung-dry protagonist who finds new purpose when he revisits the greatest trauma of his life—the death of his teenage daughter. The story details perfectly his descent into and out of grief and, eventually, into full-flung mania as he desperately searches for answers. The setting is vivid, the characters real, and the process is gorgeously rendered. There is no fluff here, just the absolute essentials for telling an utterly engrossing tale start to finish. Mr. Carpenter is in perfect control of his craft, and the results are dazzlingly compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perceptive Page-Turner! This literary suspense novel is a tantalizing twist on the typical whodunit. We know who has confessed to the murder of a teenage girl in a small town in Normandy, but her body is still missing and family members continue to grapple with that lack of closure 15 years on. The murdered girl's father, now a divorced psychiatrist working in Boston, returns to France for a family funeral and must deal with long-buried memories and emotions that rise to the surface, causing him to revisit his traumatic past and attempt to find his daughter's remains. The one person who knows where her body is can't seem to answer his questions--or is he unable to understand what is being said? Besides being a well-written and engaging read with intriguing word play, this novel speaks to universal themes of love and loss, the pull of family relationships, the power of language and memory, and the healing that can be found in community. But be warned: I started it one evening and was up until 3 a.m. the next morning because I couldn't put it down. And I can't help but recall the characters' complex emotions as I come across news stories about missing children and the real-life people caught up in such tragedies.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite When we first meet Philip Adler he is in session with a troubled patient, a young woman with whom Adler is playing a sort of chess game. Who will speak first? What is the appropriate position to take in response? If you have ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a psychiatrist while he or she is in session with a patient, "Theory of Remainders" may give you some idea. Philip's life outside the office is relatively set and predictable: chess games with long-distance players and shared meals with Edith his cat—until he receives a telephone call from his ex-wife in France. His mother-in-law has died, and it seems the appropriate thing for him to do is attend her funeral, even if it has been a number of years since he was last in France.  Every so often a reader comes upon a book that welcomes him like an old friend. The words flow, and the characters become real so quickly and easily that before you know it you are fully engrossed in the tale. Such is the case with Scott Dominic Carpenter's "Theory of Remainders," a rare and wondrous novel. Philip is an engaging character, and one winces in sympathy as he struggles through the reunion with his ex-wife and her family and resolutely maims the French language with his Yankee accent. His efforts to find out where his daughter Sophie’s remains were hidden by her murderer, 15 years previously, make this very literary novel also a compelling mystery, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend.¿