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Going Out Paperback – June 8, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

Thomas is one of a group of young British writers who call themselves the New Puritans and advocate telling stories as straightforwardly as possible. Here a young man allergic to sunlight spends his days in a heavily curtained suburban bedroom, his impressions of the outside world entirely mediated through American TV sitcoms. Meanwhile, his best friend, a math whiz, languishes as a waitress at a local pizza parlor because she's terrified of everything beyond her home town. When these misfits hear of a Chinese healer, they decide to find him, and they venture out in an old VW van. The heliophobe wraps himself in tin foil and the coward sticks to low-speed roads that appear "yellow" on the map, so that we can't miss the "Wizard of Oz" parallel. The novel succeeds as a quirky, affectionate satire of brand-saturated Britain, but its antic plot veers toward the cutesy, and the prose, deliberately—indeed, puritanically—banal, never lets the characters burst into Technicolor.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

From Booklist

Slacker lit is so 1992--the year of Coupland's Generation X--but Thomas, a dewy talent much touted in the UK, gives smirking satire a warmer heart in this contemporary quest novel. Its twentysomethings languish in the suburban wastelands of Essex, engaging the world primarily through e-mail, the Internet, and American sitcoms and movies. Luke, at least, has an excuse for his narrow existence: he's allergic to sunshine and can't leave his bedroom. When a distant spiritual healer claims to have a cure, Luke and his friends set off on a road trip that symbolizes breaking free, taking risks, living. The theme of self-discovery weighs a bit heavily, as does the Wizard of Oz framework (Luke wears a tinfoil suit; his best friend, Julie, is a clinical coward; and they're all off to see the guru). Gen Xers will probably skip this nostalgia trip, but members of Gen Y are likely to embrace the pop-culture references and the characters' rambling conversations on everything from crap jobs to New Age lifestyles to imaginary numbers. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (June 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400075319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400075317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,192,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I first discovered Scarlett Thomas when I read "The End of Mr Y", which has to be my favorite novel of the last five years. I've been working my way through everything she's written, and "Going Out" is number three for me. It's a very pleasant read, with a small dose of the kind of wacky existential philosophy which made Mr. Y such a good read, and plenty of well-observed characters from unfashionable Essex who I'm sure are very close to Ms Thomas's heart.

I find her novels to be deliciously escapist, and full of pop-culture references: who on the internet could forget that "The Dark Side Of The Moon" makes such a good alternative soundtrack for "The Wizard of Oz"?

I'd recommend any of her novels, even those I've not read yet ...
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Format: Paperback
The characters - which there are way too many of, in true Scarlett Thomas fashion - are by and large an interesting bunch of flawed specimens. At first, we meet best friends Luke and Julie, who live in . Luke's problems are evident; Julie's not so much. Luke has some sort of condition that prevents him from going outside. Therefore, he has spent his entire life inside his house, learning about life from the TV and the computer. Julie is a waitress at a local cafe, where she is perfectly content to serve salads and solve complicated math theorems in her head. When Wei, a healer with whom Luke's been communicating, ends up in Wales, Julie and her friends hatch a plan to sneak Luke out of the house and across England so he can see the healer. The crew of six is assembled rather haphazardly, expanding to include David, a co-worker of Julie's who has cancer; Leanne, a mutual childhood friend and her cousin, Chantel, who's just won the lottery; and Charlotte, an ex-girlfriend of a now-deceased neighbor who has gotten close with Julie.

The story drags for the first hundred pages or so, introducing us to all the characters and their families and everyone else, but once all the niceties are out of the way, Julie hatches her plan to cure Luke once and for all, with Leanne creating a special "spacesuit" for Luke; Chantel renting a van and being the money behind the operation; and David and Charlotte...joining in for the ride and helping navigate, but not doing a very good job of it. Not their fault, though; the more we learn about Julie, the more we learn about her little psychoses: fear of large highways, fear of travel, fear of ingesting poison through packaged foods.
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By A Customer on June 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Contrary to the editorial review, I'm a "Gen Xer" and very much appreciated this book's nostalgia. The story is as unrealistic as they come, but quite entertaining. Thomas did a fine job with the characters. And the Wizard of Oz touch was very charming.
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