Not the End of the World
By (author) Kate Atkinson
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Not the End of the World by Kate Atkinson
Book DescriptionWhat is the real world? Does it exist, or is it merely a means of keeping another reality at bay? Not the End of the World is Kate Atkinson's first collection of short stories. Playful and profound, they explore the world we think we know whilst offering a vision of another world which lurks just beneath the surface of our consciousness, a world where the myths we have banished from our lives are startlingly present and where imagination has the power to transform reality. From Charlene and Trudi, obsessively making lists while bombs explode softly in the streets outside, to gormless Eddie, maniacal cataloguer of fish, and Meredith Zane who may just have discovered the secret to eternal life, each of these stories shows that when the worlds of material existence and imagination collide, anything is possible.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780552771054
(198mm x 127mm x 20mm)
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jul-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Kate Atkinson
Life After Life, Paperback (January 2014)View all books by Kate Atkinson
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale. What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
UK Kirkus Review » Kate Atkinson's first collection of short stories is as fascinating as one would expect from the author of the award-winning Behind the Scenes of the Museum. Inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, Atkinson has written 12 linked stories, their style varying from witty and malicious to melancholic. Quoting Ovid, she promises the reader that she will tell us tales of transformation and this she proceeds to do. A nanny sprouts wings and, like a Mary Poppins in reverse, carries her neglected charge away to happiness. A geeky child obsessed with cataloguing fish turns out to have been born of a union between his bikini-clad mother and the god of an underwater kingdom, a 'colossal roaring presence'. Myths provide the backdrops but Atkinson breathes into them a mint-new meaning, giving her own interpretation of the way we live now. She has something to say about consumerism, the way we are in thrall to soap opera and our pathetic worship of media stars, but she reserves her heavy ammunition for an attack on those who fail to love. In a brilliantly funny story she portrays family life and the dwindling show of affection between teenage children and their mother. Her ear for desultory, sometimes vicious family dialogue is uncanny. Later in the book she picks up the same characters and depicts them all a little older, a little more sad and lonely. Earnest, good mothers, she seems to be saying, deserve so much more than this. Her theme is frequently love: being in love, seeking, finding and sometimes losing the loved one, but fantasy is never far from the surface. From the very first story, 'Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping', the reader begins to see a transformed, skewed world. The two girls imagine themselves in Pleasureland and dreamily recite to each other a litany of enticing goodies that they might buy, while all the time the zoo animals roam free outside and museums are ransacked. Inventive, engaging and often very moving, these are truly tales for the new millennium. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Twelve debut stories from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1996) are unparalleled in deftness but in their depth less compelling. Characters from one tale are sometimes referred to in another-as with Meredith Zane, whose aunt Nanci Zane married a Briton (in the 1970s) and then died during dentistry ("The Bodies Vest"), causing her own dentist father, back in California, to shoot himself. Earlier in the volume but later in time, Meredith ("Transparent Fiction") is 25 and living with a wannabe scriptwriter in London. When Meredith twitches the cape from the shoulders of a famous producer's wife, the aging lady turns to dust. Ovid-like metamorphoses appeal to Atkinson, who prefaces the stories with Latin passages, even Greek, allusions that tend to make the stories seem the more minor. A prolixity of cuteness and verve can give energy but can also cloy ("Meredith, Baxter, and Wilson-which sounded like a firm of lawyers-were all girls, as were the endlessly confusing Taylor, Tyler, Skyler, and Sky"). The pieces are nothing, though, if not capable in their details, as in "Tunnel of Fish," about a young deaf boy's fantasies, or "Unseen Translation," about a likably strident nanny who seeks to rescue her charges from the "ordinary." More familiar still is "Temporal Anomaly," about an Edinburgh woman who hovers, watching her family's reactions after she "dies" in a car wreck. In "Wedding Favors," a divorced mother is alone after her last child leaves for college, while in "The Cat Lover," a woman's pet grows huge and she gets pregnant by him. Opening and closing the volume are twin stories, the first about futuristic threats to the world ("Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping"), the other ("Pleasureland") about its end. In both, the characters rattle off lists of things to do, eat, and buy in another Ovid-like device that, here, just seems minimizing and affected. Stories, on balance, that appear above all to love the sound of their own voices. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Another novel, Life After Life, was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize. It was also voted Book of the Year for the independent booksellers associations on both sides of the Atlantic. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.
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