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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flying high
Helen Simpson's new book contains some of her usual searing portraits of middle class life with its marriages and children but differently from her other books this one chooses to focus a lot on global warming. The writing is top notch as always and her gift for storytelling is apparent in every story here. It's one of the best short story collections I've read in the...
Published on 13 July 2010 by Sam Quixote

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
I bought this book because I'd read 'Diary of an Interesting Year' in a Sunday magazine and enjoyed it so much I talked to friends about it and passed it on for others to read. I hoped, by buying the book, that I was in for a treat with several more, interesting and engrossing, tales but found instead that it was a rant about the damage we're doing to the environment...
Published on 12 Sep 2010 by Kazza


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flying high, 13 July 2010
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: In-Flight Entertainment (Hardcover)
Helen Simpson's new book contains some of her usual searing portraits of middle class life with its marriages and children but differently from her other books this one chooses to focus a lot on global warming. The writing is top notch as always and her gift for storytelling is apparent in every story here. It's one of the best short story collections I've read in the last couple of years, which, despite its shortness, stays with you longer than it takes to read.

The title story concerns a socratic dialogue between two men in the first class section of plane. One is a global warming denier, the other a believer and moreoever a scientist who contributed to the studies into global warming. What follows are some dire warnings about whats to come: mass death, the loss of every facet of our priveleged existence, society breaking down into martial law, every man for themselves until the planet is unable to sustain human life on the surface anymore. It stays with you more for its surety in its doomsday portents and the vivid way Simpson describes it, and also because you hope it never comes to pass.

Similar stories follow in the book: "Ahead of the Pack" satirises corporate culture meshing with global warming warnings; "The Tipping Point" features a man unable to sustain his relationship with a woman who is obsessed with bringing peoples' attentions to the urgency of global warming; "Geography Boy" is similar, contrasting medieval visions of the end of the world as depicted in Revelation. "Diary of an Interesting Year" is maybe the best story here. It takes place in 2040 and is told in diary snippets by a woman living in Simpson's dire future. She fights for survival and all the action takes place in between the entries. It's the strongest piece of storytelling I've read of hers and is a fantastic short story.

The non-global warming stories are good too. "Festival of the Immortals" is more light hearted featuring a book festival with world famous authors like the Bronte sisters and James Joyce, all of whom are alive and well in today's society. "Homework" is a mother helping her son with his creative writing homework and she tells him of an alternate life she envisioned for herself under the guise of homework help.

I really liked this book despite it's obsession with doom laden prophecies about our soon-to-be-extinct race. Impressive writing coupled with an acute storytelling sense bring these well conceived stories to life and prove to be Simpson's best book yet. A great read (though perhaps not for those looking for a cheerful pick-me-up).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The reviews are right! An incredible collection, 20 May 2011
This review is from: In-Flight Entertainment (Hardcover)
Helen Simpson is the best short story writer of our time. This collection received well-deserved rave reviews, it is laugh-out-loud funny and poignantly relevant. As The Times review said 'dangerously close to perfection'. Read it!
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, 12 Sep 2010
This review is from: In-Flight Entertainment (Hardcover)
I bought this book because I'd read 'Diary of an Interesting Year' in a Sunday magazine and enjoyed it so much I talked to friends about it and passed it on for others to read. I hoped, by buying the book, that I was in for a treat with several more, interesting and engrossing, tales but found instead that it was a rant about the damage we're doing to the environment. Some people might consider the stories to be interesting studies but I found the book uncomfortably un-entertaining and was very pleased that I hadn't taken it for in flight entertainment!
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In-Flight Entertainment
In-Flight Entertainment by Helen Simpson (Hardcover - 6 May 2010)
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