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Not the End of the World

Not the End of the World

Paperback

By (author) Kate Atkinson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 28mm | 222g
  • Publication date: 29 September 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552771058
  • ISBN 13: 9780552771054
  • Sales rank: 55,603

Product description

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.

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Author information

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed international author ever since. Her bestselling novels featuring the former police detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog, have been adapted into a successful BBC TV series starring Jason Isaacs. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Review quote

"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

Editorial reviews

Twelve debut stories from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1996) are unparalleled in deftness but in their depth less compelling. Characters from one tale are sometimes referred to in another-as with Meredith Zane, whose aunt Nanci Zane married a Briton (in the 1970s) and then died during dentistry ("The Bodies Vest"), causing her own dentist father, back in California, to shoot himself. Earlier in the volume but later in time, Meredith ("Transparent Fiction") is 25 and living with a wannabe scriptwriter in London. When Meredith twitches the cape from the shoulders of a famous producer's wife, the aging lady turns to dust. Ovid-like metamorphoses appeal to Atkinson, who prefaces the stories with Latin passages, even Greek, allusions that tend to make the stories seem the more minor. A prolixity of cuteness and verve can give energy but can also cloy ("Meredith, Baxter, and Wilson-which sounded like a firm of lawyers-were all girls, as were the endlessly confusing Taylor, Tyler, Skyler, and Sky"). The pieces are nothing, though, if not capable in their details, as in "Tunnel of Fish," about a young deaf boy's fantasies, or "Unseen Translation," about a likably strident nanny who seeks to rescue her charges from the "ordinary." More familiar still is "Temporal Anomaly," about an Edinburgh woman who hovers, watching her family's reactions after she "dies" in a car wreck. In "Wedding Favors," a divorced mother is alone after her last child leaves for college, while in "The Cat Lover," a woman's pet grows huge and she gets pregnant by him. Opening and closing the volume are twin stories, the first about futuristic threats to the world ("Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping"), the other ("Pleasureland") about its end. In both, the characters rattle off lists of things to do, eat, and buy in another Ovid-like device that, here, just seems minimizing and affected. Stories, on balance, that appear above all to love the sound of their own voices. (Kirkus Reviews)

Flap copy

A stunning collection of thoughtful and highly readable short stories by Whitbread Award-winner, Kate Atkinson. 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 while 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 posits a skewed reality glimpsed out of the corner of an eye. When the worlds of material existence and imagination collide, anything is possible. Vibrantly contemporary, plausibly implausible, refreshingly original, Not the End of the World is a timely meditation on mythology and transformation, and demonstrates Kate Atkinson to be one of the most inventive and entertaining of modern writers.