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Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2010: Scarlett Thomas is a nimble writer, joyfully unseating and upholding cozy fiction conventions in Our Tragic Universe as she builds a story around Meg Carpenter, a writer who--as a genre fiction ghostwriter, book reviewer, and writing coach--has immersed herself in every nook and cranny of her craft to keep herself afloat... and to stay at arm's length from the "real" novel she just can't get her head around. The thoughts that consume her in the meantime range widely, touching down on storytelling, magic, coincidence, love, and what it might be like to live forever. (Her wryly observed theory is that it "would be like marrying yourself, with no possibility of a divorce.") In the hands of a less talented writer (and thinker), such a litany could easily devolve into a meandering mess. Not so here: Meg's searching soul is remarkably controlled, making her a protagonist you trust and want to follow, even when--in fact, especially when--you're not entirely sure where she's going. It's always clear that Meg's journey isn't aimless, and you'll be delighted to find--as she does--that the best stories "make someone surprised to see the picture, and even more surprised when they realize they had all the pieces all along." --Anne Bartholomew
Thomas's delightfully whimsical novel riffs on the premise that ordinary lives stubbornly resist the tidy order that a fiction narrative might impose on them. Meg Carpenter, a young writer living hand-to-mouth in Devon, pens book reviews, science fiction novels, and pseudonymous YA thrillers while the serious literary novel she dabbles at keeps ballooning and shrinking back to the same 43 words. Though Meg reviews New Age titles that lay out organized plans for one's life (and afterlife), her own life is an unruly mess, encompassing a slacker boyfriend and his amusingly dysfunctional family, friends having extramarital affairs, and associates who can't balance their vocations and avocations. Enough propitious coincidences occur to suggest her life might also admit the occasional intrusion of the magical. Thomas (Popco) dexterously mixes the serious with the humorous and provides a cast of characters who come across as credible owing to their recognizable foibles and fallibility.
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Good good book for those who are very introspective, and would like to experience the internal dialogue of someone else for a while.Published 24 days ago by Jordan
20% in and wondering when the book was going to catch, I found myself reading reviews by others who had wondered the same thing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sarah B
Having read The End of Mr Y and Popco I was expecting more of the same. I was surprised. I'm not sure I can categorise the book in any particular style though. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Kathryn Marshall
I don't know what to say other than Scarlett Thomas is my new favorite author. I'm 2 books in. Philosophy intertwined with story. Delicious.Published 22 months ago by recessdoctor
Scarlett Thomas has created a memorable work. She uses the first person narrative to navigate the reader through a labyrinth of seemingly unrelated events. Read morePublished on August 14, 2013 by Darlene Baisley
It is a great book to anyone interested on the art of reading and writing. It does not have a straight story-line, but at the same time provides a great reflexion on what is a... Read morePublished on May 20, 2013 by Marina
Lovers of philosophy will enjoy this book and time spent with its likeable protagonist. A quirky, continually unexpected, and unlively meditation on life, this is not a novel for... Read morePublished on May 14, 2013 by N. Ferguson R.