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Not The End Of The World Paperback – 2 Jun 2003
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"Exceptional...Sharp, witty and completely compelling" (Daily Mail)
"I can think of few writers who can make the ordinary collide with the extraordinary to such beguiling effect...left me so fizzing with admiration" (Observer)
"An exceptionally funny, quirky and bold writer" (Independent on Sunday)
"Moving and funny, and crammed with incidental wisdom" (Sunday Times)
"Inventive and moving, these are truly tales for the new millennium" (Good Book Guide)
What 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.See all Product description
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Its not really a collection of short stories - well, it is , but if you can't get your head around it, then read the first and last chapters again ( miss out the rest ) after your initial reading and all will be revealed and become perfectly clear (hopefully) .
Make use of your Google Latin to English translator if you don't read Latin like a native - understanding those phrases will help you understand the book itself .
Someone who gave it one star thought the quotations from Ovid, Emily Dickinson, St Paul et al. were "pretentious" but they are gateways to further reading , and this, further knowledge . I love books that take me on journeys through other books - knowledge gathering is never wasted .
It's challenging reading but if you set yourself up at the beginning ( I didn't and had to re-read it twice before I clicked on) the way I have suggested , you will find it sad, funny poignant and ultimately a bit terrifying .
Its not Jackson Brodie territory so be prepared if you love JB and Kate's writing - its quirkier , more like "Human Croquet" .
I love everything she writes - sometimes , its challenging stuff but ultimately , Kate Atkinson is never, ever boring !
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!
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