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53
3.9 out of 5 stars
Not The End Of The World
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2007
I am an ardent admirer of Kate Atkinson's work, but must confess to being a little reluctant to read a collection of short stories as I most love her ability to expand and deliver storylines form the smallest intrigue within her novels. I should not have been so reticent to read this work however as the stories beautifully collide with characters, themes and much more. Never before have I been lead to re-read a book immediately after finishing it the first time, but this I have done with Not the End of the World with great relish. Not only would I wholeheartedly reccommend this book to anyone but I have just bought copies for many friends and relations for Xmas!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2010
I really enjoyed the intelligent but kooky nature of this book. It's a 5 star read for me.

I don't think I understood enough of the references to ancient Greek/Roman mythology so I'm off to do some research and reading. I also must read more of Atkinson's work as I thought her writing style was really engaging. - It speaks volumes that I scored this book 5/5 when I dislike dystopian or 'magical/fantasy' fiction in general. I think Atkinson approached her themes in a way that was entirely different from anything else I've read - she has a style all of her own, which makes her unique and interesting.

I was inclined to look for a 'purpose' to these stories - possibly a political or moral message. As a result, I feel it's quite important to read these stories in order and to continue to the end. The final chapter kind of made sense of it all for me, the idea of recapturing our oral tradition that was mentioned a few pages from the end hits the nail on the head as far as the purpose of this book is concerned. I think the references to pop culture, juxtaposed as they are against a backdrop of ancient greco-roman mythology are a comment on modern pre-occupations and that perhaps we are steaming our way to our own destruction in a valueless society. Pop culture is somehow vapid when aligned so expertly by Atkinson with the deeper religious and mystical significance of the ancient world. Capitalism as a whole is undermined here but it's done ever-so-subtly and in a way that doesn't appear dogmatic.

I really liked this thought provoking set of tales and I think the short story genre was a perfect medium. It is rare to find a really great short story writer - so many of the short stories you read come across as simply pre-cursers to longer novels or appear as 'practice' on the part of the writer. I fell in love with well written short stories when I first read Katherine Mansfield & I feel that Atkinson is on a par with Mansfield as far as the impact of her writing is concerned (although the content/plot/genre structure is rather different). - The rules governing short stories are so little understood and so I feel Atkinson is very rare.

I'm beguiled, mesmerised and very impressed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2010
This book appears at first to be a collection of short stories, but the further you get into it the more you realise it isn't. You find that characters start reappearing and changing. Woven around quotes from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (and if you can't read Latin it is worth looking up what they mean)the twelve tales are funny, strange and bizarre, but you certainly won't be bored. There are many layers of meaning to be found in this book, all told in Atkinson's brilliant prose.
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92 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2004
I have read much of Kate Atkinsons other stories and as with this book I found that the real pleasure to be had is in the telling rather than the story itself. Her language and sense of humour are wonderful, her metaphors and descriptions are original and stick in the mind long after you have finished reading them.
However the only drawback I would say is you do get the feeling often that she has come up with a wonderful idea for a story, started off writing, got halfway through and then not known how to finish it (and it was highlighted here in the short stories where presumably she had to get in, tell the story and get out again in as few pages as possible!!)
If you can suspend the need to have a neatly tied up ending and can just enjoy the way the story was told these short stories are an interesting way to pass a few minutes without demanding too much headspace to follow a plot and I would say go for this. If you hate stories that just hang at the end, or suddenly take a turn for the absurd then best opt for something else!
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Kate Atkinson is one of the most daring, intelligent and gifted women writers around, but after her remarkable debut, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, she veered a bit too far into post-modernism for me. With this collection of 12 interlinked short stories inspired by Greek myths, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Apocalyse she's not just back on form but better than ever. Yes it's still post-modern, but the playfulness and irony work as they didn't fully in Emotionally Weird. My favourite, Unseen Translation, is about the son of a ghastly pop-star who gets Artemis as his nanny. They made me laugh, shiver and cheer. Can't wait for the next novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
I really enjoy Kate Atkinson's writing, especially the Jackson Brodie novels. When I started this I wasn't sure what to make of the first story. I'm glad I read on because it is a marvellous collection taking inspiration from Greek mythology, the Apocalypse - even Buffy the vampire slayer.

The stories are linked so we meet up some of the characters in different stories, sometimes only with a name check, sometimes with a role to play. The same central characters from the first story appear in the last one creating a complete circle. One of Atkinson's strengths is her characterisation and this is as true in the short stories as in her novels with an eclectic and engaging cast. The stories are playful, darkly witty and fantastic (in the true sense of the word) with touches of laugh-out-loud humour.

As others have said, though, she does not provide neat endings with all loose ends tied up - but the stories provide wonderful entertainment, which I, for one, will enjoy re-reading. Mary Smith author of No More Mulberries
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 March 2004
Each story in this strangely beautiful collection is set in its own alternative universe, all laced together by tenous links and threads. Each one holds its own suspension of reality, where the gods descend from Olympus, animals become humans and humans become cats, immortality is possible and nothing is quite as it seems. Kate Atkinson draws on everything from classical mythology to popular culture to produce a collection that sings with magic and humanity. Fantastically - terrifyingly - our own deepest hopes and fears are set in a world that allows them to come true.
Kate Atkinson's glorious prose (toned down somewhat from it's Behind the Scenes at the Museum zenith) nevertheless dances on every page, and it is sometimes simply enough to listen to the poetry of her words. Every story reads like a celebration of mystery, magic, human nature, humour, love, life and story-telling. A genuine pleasure to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2013
I've read all of Kate Atkinson's books as I adore her writing style, wit and beautiful story telling but this collection of short stories is my least favourite by far!
Some of the stories were great but ended just as I was getting into them, they left me wanting more, where as others were just dull and didn't grab me at all. I guess that is the nature of the short story though! It takes a lot of skill to hook your reader in a short space of time and if they are left wanting more you have done a good job, but I actually like it when a short story wraps things up nicely, it is more comforting to know how things end. Some of these felt like the end of a chapter, rather than the end of the story and that annoyed me. It felt like a group of ideas which she just didn't explore further.
I had no idea that the characters were linked until I read some of these reviews! I guess it didn't grab me enough to pay attention. Admittedly I didn't get any of the mythology references either (I'm not a complete philistine, just uneducated, but admittedly it went way over my head!)
I think Kate Atkinson's strongest point all round is the complexity of her characters and there just wasn't the time to explore them in this so I was a little disappointed.
In fairness I am not a huge sci fi/ fantasy fan but I do love it when reality meets fantasy, that is a genre that can be extremely satisfying and fascinating to explore. But I ended up only enjoying about a third of this book and I found myself reluctantly trudging through it rather than hankering for the next chapter, as I do with the rest of her books!
I think you really have to enjoy short stories to be able to get through this book and maybe know your stuff when it comes to Greek Mythology!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2006
I loved this book: read it in the space of twenty-four hours, and then went back to dip into all my favourite bits again, and make some more connections. People who have not enjoyed this book should brush up on their Greek myths, and on the short story as a genre, rather than blame Kate Atkinson!

Beautifully crafted, satisfyingly interwoven, wittily plotted...need I say more?
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2003
I've just finished reading Kate Atkinson's "Not the End of the World" and I am simply astonished by how good it was.
Each story was as close to perfection as I have ever know a short story to be. Here you will find everything: good plots, humour, tragedy, though-provoking ideas and some extremely interesting characters.
What I particularly liked is that some of the characters crop up throughout the book, in stories other than their own one. It's perhaps not a new device, but it worked very well here and added yet another dimension to the book as a whole.
"Not the End of the World" must be one of the best collections of short stories I have ever read, and shows Kate Atkinson to be a rare author who can write both novels and short stories to perfection.
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