- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: The Friday Project (2 Feb. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 000745435X
- ISBN-13: 978-0007454358
- Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,944,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Evolution of Inanimate Objects Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012
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“More memorable than any door-stopping wodge of prose presenting itself as a diagnosis of the state of the nation.” SCOTSMAN ON SUNDAY
“Karlinsky’s retelling of Darwinian family history is ingeniously wry and original. Prepare to be moved, amused and duped when you enter this quasi Victorian World.” Essie Fox, Author of THE SOMNAMBULIST
“Just when you think there’s nothing new to be done with the novel, along comes a book that pushes the form in a fresh direction. Harry Karlinsky’s extraordinary book slyly and playfully blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction, asking where one begins and the other ends. THE EVOLUTION OF INANIMATE OBJECTS is the work of a genuinely original imagination, a complete pleasure and like no other book you have ever read.” John Harding, author of FLORENCE & GILES
About the Author
Harry Karlinsky is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia.
Top Customer Reviews
The story begins when Harry Karlinsky, the author, starts a research project at Ontario's London Asylum and happens to come across the surname Darwin. Karlinsky's curiosity is piqued, and he sets out to learn if the person admitted to the hospital on July 2, 1879 was any relation to the famed naturalist, Charles Darwin. He soon discovers the person noted in the ledgers is, indeed, the last child of Charles and Emma Darwin. Through the personal correspondence between the Darwin family, recorded history, and the asylum records, Karlinsky pulls together the story of Thomas. The reader understands this is a work of fiction from the proclamation printed on the front cover stating it is a novel.
But where does fact end and fiction begin? It is sometimes hard to tell. Replete with charts, sketches, and footnotes, the novel sets the reader on a venture to find out. For someone who loves puzzles, and scavenger hunts, this is an added bonus. I even started to wonder if Mr. Karlinsky was part of the ruse. But, after hard investigation, my conclusion is that he does exist. I could be wrong, and, if I am, then someone went to a lot of trouble to make him appear to be a real person.Read more ›
I found this a fascinating read. It is presented as a combination of a historical paper and Thomas's scientific papers. I can imagine that the somewhat drier narrative style is not suited to all readers, but it was quite enjoyable to me. It is well-written and maintained my interest. It made me laugh more than once.
Note that I am not well-enough familiar with Charles Darwin's own writing to compare the style. But I did find everything in the book both credible and plausible and was constantly contemplating where the line was between fact and fiction.
If you think about it, how many have considered Charles Darwin insane for his theories, especially in earlier times. So it isn't surprising for the the son who relies on the same scientific basis for his theories to end up in an asylum. The book made me think, which is something I tend to appreciate in a book. I can personally think of more than one person likely to enjoy the book.
I am also very pleased to report that I have no complaints about the editing and was completely without urges to run and find a red pen. That in itself is a joy.
I recommend it to anyone who enjoys thinking outside the box.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my promise to review it. That fact has not modified my rating or review at all.
Thomas Darwin is purported to be the youngest son of the famous Charles, daughter of Emma (nee Wedgwood, yes the pottery people). His mum and dad are first cousins (a trifling matter, but neatly ironic). Thomas is a bit of a strange child, 'alone but not lonely' and more than likely to follow in his father's footsteps, except - as we already know from the cover, and the Preface (but keep forgetting because we're so drawn into this life story) Thomas will die in an insane asylum by the time he's 21 and his 'life's work' will culminate in an ultimately flawed study of the evolution of inanimate objects.
I loved the premise that inanimate objects actually evolve. I'm moving house soon, and while reading the book in the pre-move sorting out phase, found myself noting the three generations of apple macs, the leap in evolution from the 56k dial up modem to wi-fi router, pestle and mortar via food processor - getting carried away now, don't own a food processor - but you see where I'm going. I was intrigued and totally taken up with Thomas's theory, until I spot the flaw, the uh-oh moment when the reader realises that Thomas Darwin is insane.
Harry Karlinsky is a clever guy. Not only is he a Professor of Psychiatry, but this little book (just over 200 pages) is his debut novel. The reason it works so well? Not only is the biographical format anatomically correct and wonderfully annotated (watch out for footnotes that contradict the text!), but because it tells a very human story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sometimes I'll read a novel that claims to be doing something different - and it rarely it, or it is, but in a way that makes it incomprehensible to read. Read morePublished on 24 July 2013 by sisterimapoet
I was given a copy of this in exchange for a review. This novel tells the story of Thomas Darwin, youngest son of Charles Darwin. Read morePublished on 3 Dec. 2012 by Denyse King
Harry Karlinsky comes across a name in the London Asylum records which piques his interest. Thomas Darwin. Was he any relation to Charles? Read morePublished on 19 Feb. 2012 by Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
I like The Friday Project. They publish a truly eclectic mix of books ranging from the populist "Confessions Of A GP" to the lyrical "Like Bees To Honey" with "The Sonnets"... Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2012 by JohnBrassey