184 of 205 people found the following review helpful
Destiny, Fate, and Self-Knowledge
, March 1, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Monster at the End of This Book (Jellybean Books(R)) (Hardcover)
_The Monster At The End Of This Book_ (henceforth "TMATEOTB") is a fascinating treatise on several of the philosophical problems lurking at the core of modern and classical thought. The premise -- that, with the turn of each page, the reader brings self-described "lovable, furry Grover" closer to danger at the hands of the title monster -- allows one to question the very nature of free will and destiny. Is Grover doomed to encounter the monster? The conceit that it is the act of turning pages -- the literal act of reading itself -- that causes the ending to come about inevitably leads to the question: Would the book end differently if one _didn't_ finish reading it? On another level, TMATEOTB addresses one of the paradoxes of contemporary physics: The equality of space and time. The "end of the book" is an event in the future, but the monster is not spoken of as "arriving", but as _already being there_. Thus, turning pages moves the reader and Grover not only forward in time, as in most traditional literature, but also forward in space, leading to the perilous End of the Book. Lastly, TMATEOTB is about how we are ultimately at the whim of the cosmic forces that shape our lives. The hapless protagonist tries again and again to stop the reader from turning pages by erecting brick walls and nailing one page to the other. His efforts are futile, but he remains unaware of his essential helplessness in the face of a Reader. Perhaps, the book says, we are ultimately doomed to fail, trapped within the pages of cosmic irony, but unable to prevent or even perceive the inevitability of our encounter with the monster. The shocking twist ending wraps up the disparate threads of the text, presenting issues of self-knowledge, the nature of fear, and the question of what it truly means to be a monster. Perhaps the failure of our quests for safety in an uncertain world isn't so bad, it argues, if it leads to a confrontation like the one depicted in _The Monster At The End Of This Book_.
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