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Dot in the Universe [Paperback]

Lucy Ellmann
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Feb. 21 2004 --  

Book Description

Feb. 21 2004
It's your worst nightmare: instead of being dead, you're alive!

Dot thinks she's perfect, with her blond hair, pointy nose, and pink skin. She lives on the east coast of England with her magnificent hubby, cooking him gourmet meals and crashing the car. So one day she decides to End It All. But-Dot BLOWS it!

After a brief sojourn in the underworld (populated by "underaged, underdeveloped underlings all, understated in their undershirts and UNDERSTANDING VERY LITTLE"), Dot is reincarnated, first as a possum, and then as a girl in Ohio. A hilarious and poignant journey through our puny universe, this is a masterpiece of disquiet.

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Review

'Ellmann's solution to Dot's terrible knowledge makes this a raging, funny book' Marie Claire 'An anarchic flight of fancy, stuffed with ideas and opinions that are shrewd, passionate, outrageous and very, very funny' Sunday Telegraph 'Original, funny and slickly written ... an angry and imaginative tour de force, salted with caustic insights and sweetened with pathos' Daily Mail 'One of the funniest, most mordant and perfectly formed books I've read' Ali Smith --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Lucy Ellmann, born in the United States, was later completely and unnecessarily transported to England. She has written four novels: Sweet Desserts, winner of the 1988 Guardian Fiction Prize; Varying Degrees of Hopelessness; Man or Mango? A Lament; and Dot in the Universe. The last two were both nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
Lucy Ellman is a revelation. She's an American expat who has taken up residence in England and has acquired the saucy edginess of some of the better English satirists (think of a female Waugh or Amis). While maybe not yet in that league stylistically, she is, at least on the basis of this book, equally as funny.
Ellman's central character, Dot Butser starts out relatively pleased with herself, with her middle class English seaside lifestyle and with her sexually charged husband, whom she believes to be a deep sea fisherman. As the story unfolds, Dot's universe unravells. Hilariously. Bit by bit, Dot comes to see the sordid truth behind the comfortable facade that she has created for herself. She embarks on a quest of self-discovery, depression, suicide, rebirth (several rebirths, in fact, as an assortment of creatures that will have Buddhist and Hindus everywhere chuckling knowingly to themsleves). Finally she comes full circle, in a nice, ironic ending.
Readers who are offended by course language should steer clear. Ellman has the vocabulary of your typical longshoreman. She's pretty graphic about bodily functions and sexual proclivities. But she's not Andrew Dicey Clay. There is a point to her vulgarity, as it reflects the environment she so wittily demolishes. Like all good satirists, she's not too high on the present state of society, neither in England, nor even more negatively, in America.
About the tea cosies. It will give you a brief idea of Ellman's style and humor to illustrate Dot's preoccupation with them. It drives Dot's philandering husband, John, up the wall that she is so obsessed with the things:
"Particularly perturbing to him was Dot's TEA-COSY COLLECTION. They reminded him of his grandma's UNDIES, saggy, baggy and stained.... .
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3.0 out of 5 stars Structure isn't everything March 23 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is only mildly amusing, and while the circularity of the plot resolves itself quite nicely, it seems the fragmentary nature of the book is structured to encompass the author's personal diatribes against animal testing (severe) and fat americans (actually amusing, and interesting given recent news). The home decorator in Hell is also amusing, and could perhaps be read as social or political commentary. While there are snippets of good writing, the justification for the main suicide is present but vague. And why the words in All CAPS?
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5.0 out of 5 stars funny, sad, concise Feb. 26 2004
By J. LIN
Format:Paperback
Lucy Ellmann is funny, sad, and concise. She gets to her points very fast, and her point is that things are sad and funny. I forgot that she is angry too. Angry, funny, sad, and concise. About the book: it's angry, funny, sad, and concise. I remember this one part where it was really angry and funny and sad. Okay. But I really did read this book and I think it deserves five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dot is not insignificant! Feb. 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this because Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times liked it, and she is like Mikey of cereal-fame...she never likes anything! At any rate, I found this book very funny in a dark way. I laughed out loud several times, an once I got used to the precious use of CAPITAL LETTERS, I liked it very much indeed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll Never Look at Tea Cosies the Same Way Again June 14 2004
By Bruce Kendall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lucy Ellman is a revelation. She's an American expat who has taken up residence in England and has acquired the saucy edginess of some of the better English satirists (think of a female Waugh or Amis). While maybe not yet in that league stylistically, she is, at least on the basis of this book, equally as funny.
Ellman's central character, Dot Butser starts out relatively pleased with herself, with her middle class English seaside lifestyle and with her sexually charged husband, whom she believes to be a deep sea fisherman. As the story unfolds, Dot's universe unravells. Hilariously. Bit by bit, Dot comes to see the sordid truth behind the comfortable facade that she has created for herself. She embarks on a quest of self-discovery, depression, suicide, rebirth (several rebirths, in fact, as an assortment of creatures that will have Buddhist and Hindus everywhere chuckling knowingly to themsleves). Finally she comes full circle, in a nice, ironic ending.
Readers who are offended by course language should steer clear. Ellman has the vocabulary of your typical longshoreman. She's pretty graphic about bodily functions and sexual proclivities. But she's not Andrew Dicey Clay. There is a point to her vulgarity, as it reflects the environment she so wittily demolishes. Like all good satirists, she's not too high on the present state of society, neither in England, nor even more negatively, in America.
About the tea cosies. It will give you a brief idea of Ellman's style and humor to illustrate Dot's preoccupation with them. It drives Dot's philandering husband, John, up the wall that she is so obsessed with the things:
"Particularly perturbing to him was Dot's TEA-COSY COLLECTION. They reminded him of his grandma's UNDIES, saggy, baggy and stained.... . Dot's tea cosies were ancient, home-made WOOLEN concoctions, knitted by women inexplicably driven to provide the world with decorative structures in which to house teapots. "
Some readers may be put off by the stylistic device of using ALL CAPS for emphasis, however, I found it an integral part of the humor. I didn't always understand what motivated the choices for why particular words were so emphasized, but I wasn't distracted by it.
Ellman has a great satirical eye and comedic voice. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more titles from this lady. If you're a fan of British satire, or just enjoy a fun, brief read now and again, this short, episodic novel will fill the bill. I had to deduct one star for one Ellman device that gets a bit tiresome after a while. She's obsessed with lists. Sometimes the lists are rather clever and funny. At other times they are mind numbing and one wants to have done with them. In the overall scheme, it's a minor annoyance and Ellman fully succeeded in keeping me entertained for 200 pages.
BEK
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, entertaining and wholly her own July 24 2004
By A. Whitney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book Ellman has created a very unusual story that kept me wondering what was going to happen next. While her interest in frequently accentuating words in ALL CAPS is odd at first, once you get used to it, it becomes more like when a friend puts her hand on your arm to emphasise her point during conversation.

The story of Dot reflects much of the malaise in society, and matter of factly and amusingly incorporates some taboo stuff such as infidelity, porno flicks, murder, vivisection and incest. Ellman also has a knack of gettting into tangents, or at least the first seem like tangents, but their power is likly very calucalated. I found her cheeky tirade on What if Animals Did This to You? (where she invites the reader to imagine if animals treated us as we treat them) to be especially amusing.

if you want something cooky, a little bit naughty and very unusual, then this book is or you.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dot is not insignificant! Feb. 27 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this because Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times liked it, and she is like Mikey of cereal-fame...she never likes anything! At any rate, I found this book very funny in a dark way. I laughed out loud several times, an once I got used to the precious use of CAPITAL LETTERS, I liked it very much indeed.
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's your worst nightmare: instead of being dead you're alive!" Sept. 11 2013
By ReasonableGoatPerson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lucy Ellmann constantly shouts at the reader; there's ALL-CAPS screaming in nearly every sentence. But you know what? She's justified. There's a lot to be angry about in this life, and in this death. I thoroughly enjoyed every p*ssed-off minute of it.

We first meet Dot as a newlywed, follow her through to the end of her life, then into the Underworld, her reincarnation ("Reincarnation IS for optimists!"), then we learn about the first half of Dot's life & how she become so Dotty.

If nothing else had endeared Ms Ellmann to me, I'd have to love her for giving Scientists a special rung in hell. "SCIENTISTS... who act in darkness... Lord it over everybody as if they KNOW SOMETHING." **** Science. It needs to be said, and said more often, so bravo! for saying it.

Anyone looking for something a bit different, who isn't easily offended, Dot in the Universe is just the book for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Oct. 2 2011
By K. Welsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of my favorite novels! The structure and the use of all caps was a little strange but I loved it. The all caps is used to wonderful comic effect and each chapter held new surprises. I could not stop laughing...this is one book I turn to whenever I'm taking life too seriously! It makes you feel like you've stepped into a demented but fantastic alternate universe!
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