Ellmann has a wonderful imagination and an ascerbic black humour that is riveting. I like her brilliant use of pastich: the book is full of quotation, allusion, lists, letters, different narrative strategies, including some visual effects. The poetry, for example, is hilarious and enormously clever. It is no mean feat to write such deliberately bad poetry. On the other hand this novel should be, could be, much more than a post-modern bricolage. Why have such an apocalyptic ending when we are already convinced that Eloise's celibate state really is a tragedy for her; her life of fussy despair is more interesting that plate tectonics. I also think that Ellmann is overbrimming with material. Owen and Ellen could be a novel of their own, Eloise's parents and their shuffling off of this mortal coil seem to premise a magnificent story. I think finally that Ellmann should have used these characters in several different and more tightly focused novels. MAN OR MANGO could have been one of those "loose baggy monsters": a 700 page novel which ends up thoroughly exploring the intriguing cast of characters. As it is, characters like the three old ladies, Niamh, and the doctor's family have scant interest for us since we barely have a chance to get interested. This is a time of vapid writing, vapid novels, and one rarely meets a novelist as _smart_ as Ellmann. I will certainly read everything else she has written that I can get my hands on and watch out for her writing in the future. I feel like saying: Lucy, you are TOP of the class, but I KNOW you can do much much better." Is that really fair? Shouldn't I just be happy to have found a writer who really is intelligent, funny, and original? I give MAN OR MANGO five stars, not because of what it ends up doing but because I am convinced that the author could have done it......because she is a five star writer whose book has many many five star moments, although they could be, should be more deftly pulled together.