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Going Out [Paperback]

Scarlett Thomas
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 7 April 2003 --  

Book Description

7 April 2003

‘Fans of Coupland and Murakami: here is your new favourite author.’ Matt Thorne

He wants to go out. She wants to stay in. For some reason, they are best friends.

Luke is allergic to the sun. Tewnty-five and housebound, he’s stuck in his bedroom where the world comes to him through TV, the internet and Julie’s nightly visits. It is October 2000, and he has vowed to find a cure for his allergy by the end of the year.

While Luke searches the internet for healers, Julie is happy living with her dad, working at the local retail park and thinking about maths theorems that no one else understands. As long as she doesn't have to leave home, everything’s OK.

When a healer contacts Luke and claims that he can cure him, the two have to face their fears and embark on a journey that might just change their lives. With four friends – Charlotte, David, Leanne and Chantel, and armed with rolls of tin foil, wellies and a homemade space suit – they set off in a VW Camper van in the rain, driving on B-roads through the October floods, not knowing what they might find.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (7 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841157627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841157627
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 717,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her other novels include Bright Young Things, Going Out, PopCo and The End of Mr.Y, which was longlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007. She teaches creative writing at the University of Kent. Her website is at www.scarlettthomas.co.uk

Product Description


‘“Going Out” takes the most important human preoccupations and fashions a dazzling entertainment out of them. It is beautifully controlled, incredibly disciplined, and points the way to a new future for English fiction.’ Matt Thorne

‘Original, funny and full of insight. Scarlett Thomas’s voice is pitch-perfect and she has created a brilliant and assured novel with themes that resonate long after the book has been put down.’ Chrissie Glazebrook, author of ‘The Madolescents’

‘Full of love, honesty, humour and sadness, Scarlett Thomas once again defies classification. “Going Out” is a story which will remain with you long after you’ve come to its end and will show you that there is far more to fiction writing than you have believed before.’ Rebbecca Ray, author of ‘A Certain Age’

From the Back Cover


Luke wants to go out but a rare allergy to sunlight has kept him housebound for 25 years. His only experiences of the world arrive in his blacked-out bedroom on the TV, over the internet and through the nightly visits of his best friend Julie. But now he has vowed to find a cure. So, with a home-made space suit, a camper van and a bunch of unreliable friends, Luke and Julie embark o a journey along the B-roads of Britain that might just change their lives forever.

'Surreal and inventive. A warm and comical study of life outside the London orbital, 'Going Out' does for provincial Britain what Frank Capra did for small-town America.' 'Independent on Sunday'

'An absorbing, sympathetic story.' 'Esquire'

'Fresh…original and well written.' 'Jockey Slut'

'Insightful and entertaining.' 'Big Issue'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
`Going Out' is one of Scarlett Thomas's earlier novels and is about the friendship between Luke, who has a rare allergy to sunlight, and Julie, an outsider who waitresses and attempts to complete complex maths puzzles in her spare time. Luke has become tired of a life confined to his bedroom and guarded by his overprotective mother and so when the opportunity to be `healed' appears to present itself, Julie, Luke and a few others decide to make a special road trip.

Just in case the reader wasn't aware, there are a number of clunky references to The Wizard of Oz which this book is clearly meant as a tribute to. However, I can forgive Scarlett Thomas almost anything because her novels are always so absorbing and full of ideas. If you've read The End of Mr Y or PopCo, you might find this a little `light' but all the familiar Thomas ingredients are there - she never disappoints.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read 21 Oct 2007
By Mr. Stuart Bruce TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
The extremely well-written story of mid-twenty-year-old neighbours Julie and Luke- Luke with an affliction that means he can't go outside, Julie who failed her exams in order to look after him though they're not partners- and their bizarre array of friends who reach a turning point in their lives and decide to get Luke cured.

It's very easy to read, the characters are totally engaging, and every one of the supporting cast has a novel's worth of story in their own right. By the time they set out in the camper van you are with them every step of the way. The ending is the first real "I wasn't expecting that!" ending I've read in some time, yet it works and is very appropriate.

It is definitely a cut above a lot of the other twenty-somethings 'modern fiction' that's out there at the moment. It's the first Scarlett Thomas book I've read but it won't be the last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved The End of Mr Y although it's not at ... 26 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved The End of Mr Y although it's not at all the sort of book I normally read and couldn't wait to find some more Scarlett Thomas but I found Going Out a bit tedious and eventually got tired of everyone's hang ups and complaints; gave up on it in the end, sadly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarlett you man of men. 17 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Arrived in advertised condition within advertised time.
Book was a great read and although I wasn't thrilled with the ending, it was suited and the whole thing came to a reasonable climax.
Not one of Scarlett's best, but it was one of her earlier works.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
To a hoary old bookworm like me, it's a beautiful feeling to pick up a book with no real prior knowledge, and be completely enamoured and enchanted as the last page is turned. It's an epiphany, a discovery, and almost like love.

My first experience with Scarlett Thomas was picking up 'The End of Mr. Y', which looked interesting enough, with its black-lined pages, recommendation by Philip Pullman, and the promise of philosophy, metaphysics, curses & supersitions, quantum physics, time-travel and sex (I mean, with promises like that, who could resist, right?), but when I finished the book, I was so impressed, amazed and enchanted, that I knew I must find more.

With "Going Out", however, while it may be a different subject, and an earlier work, I felt that Scarlett Thomas had written the book with me in mind. The locations, characters, and the situations that they find themselves in really struck a chord that I haven't felt in a long time. Maybe it is because in 2000, the year the book was set in, I was at roughly the same age as the characters. I live in South Essex, where the book was set, and know a lot of the locations (There is a pub called 'The Rising Sun' in Billericay, although I don't know if that's where Scarlett Thomas based her pub on...), and I could see various aspects of my own life, and the lives of my friends, reflected in the characters of the novel.

There is no doubt that Scarlett writes with a lot of heart. The plot may not be a 'Da Vinci Code' rollercoaster of thrills and excitement, but each character stands out so strongly that they were practically tangible. Luke, the main character, suffers with XP, a rare skin disease that causes a potentially fatal allergy if he is exposed to the sun.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going Out 22 May 2003
By A Customer
Although this book is an extremely easy read it does not insult the readers' intelligence. The story is a good one and logical to follow. The author describes the characters in amusing detail and the reader genuinely wants the focus of the story, Luke, to get better. The ending is unpredictable and the book makes a refreshing change from many of the conventional others that fill the shelves of numerous book shops. If made into a film, Scarlett Thomas' "Going Out" would be a box office hit.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'll start this review talking about the author in general. In some quarters she seems to have developed a reputation as a 'chick lit' author, possibly because she is a woman (surprisingly enough, female is not a genre) and the covers of her previous books have all been a bit on the bright side.
Well, it's not true and it never has been: her first three books were kick-ass detective stories and the last one (Bright Young Things) was, briefly, a thought experiment type of novel examining the relationships between people to the world - at least I think it was, I go into this in more depth in my review of Bright Young Things (so you can that out next, if you want).
So, not chick lit. Scarlett was also a contributor to the New Puritan Anthology. You may have ideas about what this means - is the book all surface and plain storytelling; a little dour and dull? No, it isn't.
Two things about the New Puritans: firstly, it's probably best not to assume too much about the contributors unless you've actually read the anthology (avoid labels, even if authors appear to be sticking them on themselves); secondly, the project was a one-off, an experiment - not a way of life (Toby Litt's Deadkidsongs breaks pretty much every rule in the manifesto - yet both that book and his story in the anthology are very good).
Probably the best way to get an idea of Scarlett's writing style (and mindset) is to search out her excellent (if slightly crazed) website - that's how I got into her writing in the first place.
Anyway enough about what the book isn't, here's what it is. Very good, for a start, though possibly not to everyone's taste.
The two main characters have opposing dilemmas: one can't go out (he's allergic to the sun) the other doesn't want to (she's scared of the world).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent
A wonderful thought provoking story. Like all her previous books this is a joy to read.
Fresh and invigorating writing
Published 1 month ago by boabby50
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific writer
another enjoyable read
she has a great style with believable characters you just want to know all about!
not quite as good as The End of Mr Y, but not many books are!
Published 12 months ago by John Taylor
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the End of Mr Y but an enjoyable read
This book is a fun read. I wouldn't say it is as thought provoking as some of her other books but the characters are interesting and the plot is well worked. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Si
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea
Bought at the same time as PopCo. Thomas talks about the same childhood experiences in both books, making them a bit repetitive. But still good and original stories.
Published 14 months ago by Ms P Louise
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and different (as every book of hers!)
As always, I love her books, such a different story...
There is only one thing, sometimes it looks that she forgot Luke is in the room... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ana Delia Rodríguez
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
Scarlett Thomas has done it again and produced another outstanding book. This one is a slightly faster read than her others but only because it doesn't include as much... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Vicki
3.0 out of 5 stars weaker than her other novels
There were some strange gaps in the understanding of the world for someone apparently at least averagely intelligent, well read and with access to TV. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ter
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read!
I love Scarlett Thomas's books- this is another great one, less maths than some of her more recent offerings (which is not a bad thing), a good, easy to read story :)
Published 18 months ago by Dr. Amanda Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Only just started...
Onlyjust started this one..
But it seems to be taking the form of another wonderful Thomas story..
Luke and Julie are gonna have an amazing journey... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Miss CK OLEARY
3.0 out of 5 stars Past her peak?
I very much enjoyed The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, and her next novel, Pop Co, is one of my favourites. However I was disappointed by Our Tragic Universe. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Lucybird
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