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The End of Mr. Y Paperback – October 2, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Thomas's dense, freewheeling novel, Ariel Manto, an oversexed renegade academic, stumbles across a cursed text, which takes her into the Troposphere, a dimension where she can enter the consciousness, undetected, of other beings. Thomas first signals something is askew even in Ariel's everyday life when a university building collapses; soon after, Ariel discovers her intellectual holy grail at a used book shop: a rare book with the same title as the novel, written by an eccentric 19th-century writer interested in "experiments of the mind." The volume jump-starts her doctoral thesis, but her adviser disappears. And when Ariel follows a recipe in the book, she finds herself in deep trouble in the Troposphere. Her young ex-priest love interest may be too late to save her. Thomas blithely references popular physics, Aristotle, Derrida, Samuel Butler and video game shenanigans while yoking a Back to the Future–like conundrum to a gooey love story. The novel's academic banter runs the gamut from intellectually engaging to droning; this journey to the "edge of consciousness" is similarly playful but less accessible than its predecessor, PopCo. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

British author Thomas bites off a bit more than she can chew in this novel incorporating time travel, Derrida, and the dangers of sadistic trysts. Strange things keep happening to British university lecturer Ariel Manto. First her supervisor disappears; then she discovers the rarest of rare books, The End of Mr. Y, at a secondhand bookshop. The tome was penned by Thomas Lumas, a nineteenth-century scientist who, as luck would have it, is the subject of Ariel's dissertation. (The book tells the tale of a man who swallows a tincture, stares into a black dot, and winds up in a place called the Troposphere, where he travels space and time through others' minds.) Bored and befuddled by real life, Ariel mimics the author's eerie experiment, with mixed results. (On her first trip, she melds minds with a randy rodent and a psychotic cat.) Like her previous novel, PopCo (2005), Thomas' mildly amusing second offering aspires to be both wonky and hip: her protagonist obsesses over philosophical matters one moment, her lamentable love life the next. Chick lit for nerds. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031615
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'll be honest: I was initially drawn to this book because of the cute little mouse on the front cover. I picked it up and read the back. It said in huge letters: IF YOU KNEW THIS BOOK WAS CURSED, WOULD YOU READ IT? Intrigued, I read the rest of the blurb and discovered it was about a woman, Ariel, who read a book that was supposedly cursed and wound up lost in an alternate level of consciousness where she could read others' minds. Wow! Now I was really intrigued!

As soon as I had the book in my hands, I couldn't wait to read it and find out if the book really was cursed.The book-within-a-book that Ariel reads may be cursed and it may not be, but I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read it.

However, Scarlett Thomas's novel is definetely cursed. Each page of it will literally haunt and possess you. As you read it, you will become so absorbed in it that you will lose awareness of everything else around you.

You will stay up for hours after your bedtime trying to solve the many mysteries that lie within the multi-layered plots of the book. You will find yourself asking deep, profound questions, such as: Is there a God? How did the universe begin? Are there other universes out there that we aren't aware of? What are thoughts made of? Are thoughts tangible? Are we all connected somehow by the tangled web of thoughts we weave? Can we read people's minds and thoughts? Can others read our minds? What would it be like if I turned into a mouse? (I kid you not about the last one!) And when you finally go to bed, your dreams will be possessed by the labyrinths and questions of the book, and you will find yourself trying to make sense of it all. Even after you have finished the book, it will continue to haunt your mind. You will be filled with an insatiable desire to aquire all of Scarlett Thomas's other writings and read them!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I'm finding so curious is not this book, which I found to be a pleasurable read, all in all, but the polarised reviews of it. On the one hand, we have the rather pig-headed remark by Allison Block writing for The American Library Association, "Chick lit for nerds."-- On the other, we have Jonathan Coe's remark sprawled across the front cover, "Not only will you have a great time reading this book, but you will finish it a cleverer person than when you started."--- This is all a bit much. To begin with the Block-headed review, perhaps Ms. Block should stick to reviewing mindless testosterone-filled novels, plenty of them about. I'm not a chick, and I don't consider myself a nerd (though Ms. Block would no doubt disagree, since I fancied this book). Mr. Coe's remark, on the other hand is a bit much on eulogistic side. I don't feel any "cleverer" for reading this book. The ideas aren't terribly original; you can find much more intriguing and mind-bending notions by reading a popular book on String Theory, for example.

What is formidable is Ms Thomas's ability to form an exciting, sexy romp of a narrative employing these ideas. It's simply a wheeze to read. Contrary to what the Ms. Blocks of the world may assert, this book if for people who feel as Ariel feels on page 117:

"Real life is running out of money, and then food. Real life is having no proper heating. Real life is physical. Give me books instead: Give me the invisibility of the contents of books, the thoughts, the ideas, the images. Let me become part of a book;"

So, go on, it's fun, and it's not as if you'll be cursed or anything.
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Format: Paperback
Ariel Manto is a PhD candidate at an English University where she is working on a thesis based on the works of an obscure author from the late 19th century. Her thesis advisor disappeared a year before the novel's action begins--on the day that a campus building collapses over a long unused railroad tunnel that runs beneath the campus.

Ariel lives a rather hand-to-mouth life, in a seedy apartment building with inadequate heat, on a budget that makes Ramen noodles a feast, and in the company of an odd assortment of characters. On the day of the building collapse, she has to walk home through an unfamiliar neighborhood, wanders into a used bookshop, and finds the elusive last book by the subject of her thesis, The End of Mr. Y.

At this point, her somewhat unconventional life takes a turn for the bizarre, and the reader should strap on the roller coaster seat belt and hold on, hands inside the car please.

Ariel begins reading the book, discovers the secret that so many have tried to surpress, and--very much like Alice down the rabbit hole--follows the clues, and formulas, and the recipes in the book to discover the secret of Mr. Y.

It's a fantastical book, but Thomas makes Ariel's strange journey, the people she meets and flees from, the atmosphere and location of her journeys, all of what she experiences in the course of the novel, move from one point to the next in a fashion that carries the reader along--a little breathlessly and mouth agape, perhaps--but anxious to see what will happen next.

Thomas is a skilled writer, and she knows how to pace the novel in a way that keeps the reader from being overwhelmed by the strangeness of the tale.
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