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Magnified World [Deckle Edge] [Paperback]

Grace O'Connell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 22.95
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Book Description

May 29 2012

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A beautiful New Face of Fiction debut from a stunningly gifted young novelist about what it means to be a daughter, a patient, a lover and a human being who can carry on after a massive loss.
 
What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.


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Product Description

Review

WINNER 2014 – Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award

“A poignant exploration of love, grief and lucidity.”
—CBC Books
 
“An accomplished, decidedly quirky debut novel.”
Toronto Star
 
“Seduces immediately by force of storytelling. . . . O’Connell is spot-on about the isolating nature of grief. . . . The story’s real weight, its heart’s heft, comes with a closing sleight-of hand. In retrospect, it connects with a wallop.”
The Globe and Mail
 
“A poignant, affecting first novel. . . . The greatest strength of Magnified World lies . . . in moments of quiet yet piercing insight into the pain of losing a loved one.”
Toronto Star
 
“[O’Connell] possesses a magical, almost fanciful, and rich imagination.”
—Canada.com
 
“Powerful and haunting, Magnified World exists in a realm of its own. I greatly anticipate the future career of Grace O’Connell.”
Indigo Fiction Blog
 
“A very excellent book.”
This Magazine
 
“There is magic in Magnified World.”
January Magazine  
 
“Part of Random House’s well-curated New Face of Fiction series. . . . O’Connell deserves marks for a bold approach to her subject—grieving is indeed a surreal, nonlinear process impossible to prepare for.”
National Post
 
“She’s a beautiful writer. Line by line, her prose is sensate and evocative, toying with words and images and reframing them in wonderfully counterintuitive, surprising ways.”
The Walrus

“O’Connell has a deliriously good style, swooping through layers of consciousness and comprehension with elegance and even a bit of humour. The painful experience of going on with one’s life after a loved one commits suicide is examined by stripping bare multiple layers of perception to try to find stability in an unstable emotional world. “
—Quill & Quire

“A haunting story about love and fragility, the permeable line between truth and the imagination, absence and longing, grieving and coming through. Here is a drenching swim in the strongest currents of feeling, the link between mothers and daughters, fathers, lovers and the very fine line between what we know to be real, and what we cannot ever know for certain.”
—Lisa Moore, author of February

“Magnified World is a powerful debut that fearlessly tackles the fears and joys of the heart. There is poetry on the path that lies beyond loss, and Grace O’Connell has found it.”
—Ami McKay, author of The Virgin Cure and The Birth House
 
“In its intimate mysteries and wry observation, O’Connell’s Magnified World offers something quite rare: a view of grief that isn’t sad, but touching, whimsical and wise.”
—Trevor Cole, author of The Fearsome Particles
 
“Grace O’Connell’s debut novel is somehow seductive, subtle and stunning all at the same time. She takes the world you know in hand, and tilts it slightly, a bit more, then even more…until everything is something else, and breathtaking. Magnified World is not just big; it is deeper, scarier, more there than the real thing. And although it’s a daunting place to be, O’Connell’s writing is such that you’d follow her anywhere. You’ll want to live inside this language, wrap yourself up in it; she really is that good.”
—Shaughnessy Bishop Stall, author of Ghosted
 
“Charm. It’s a rare quality that is in abundant evidence in Grace O’Connell’s debut. A whole emotional world—and an intimate take on the city—are drawn by a distinctive authorial voice that’s already found itself.”
—Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle and The Guardians
 
“Grace O’Connell’s debut, Magnified World, bristles with energy. When Maggie’s mother drowns herself in the river, Maggie is left behind, struggling to keep herself afloat in the aftermath. Magnified World is about the extraordinary lengths to which Maggie will go to keep herself from being pulled under by the legacy of family secrets and the ripples of mental illness. A smart, dark, funny, puzzle box of a book that is as much about hope as it is about grief and the grip of a mother on her daughter.”
—Alexi Zentner, author of Touch
 
“O’Connell delves into the murky waters of memory, identity and mental illness with heartbreaking clarity and wisdom. Magnified World is a gem of a book.”
—Brian Francis, author of Natural Order
 
“Magnified World brims with life and magic. In the face of suicide, grief, blackouts and men who may or may not be real, Grace O’Connell’s wonderful novel celebrates the inventiveness that allows us not only to survive but daringly reinvent ourselves. O’Connell is a deft and delightful storyteller whose prose has a natural clarity and buoyancy. Her heroine, Maggie, may fear she’s going a little mad but O’Connell’s belief in the power of stories to save us shines through at every turn.”
—Catherine Bush, author of The Rules of Engagement and Claire’s Head

“O’Connell writes with assurance and a rare vitality. At once funny and deeply disturbing, Magnified World will remain with the reader long after the book is closed.”
—Rabindranath Maharaj, author of The Amazing Absorbing Boy 
 

About the Author

Grace O'Connell holds an MFA in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, Quill & Quire and EYE Weekly. She has taught creative writing at George Brown College and now works as a freelance writer and editor in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lush, almost surreal dream of a read June 9 2012
Format:Paperback
My overall impression of this impressive novel was lucidity. The prose was clear and simple but also lush and evocative.I loved the atmosphere in general but the heat was especially effective. I totally felt the humidity and stuffiness in the apartment, in George's little restaurant, in the store. Torontonians will appreciate the sights and sounds of Queen West which are so exquisitely captured here. Like Lisa Moore, O'Connell has that rare ability to describe mundane ordinary things in a fresh, perceptive way that makes me go, "yes, of course, how come I never thought of it like that before?" I fell in love with Maggie's dad and I missed the warm and wonderful presence of Elaine when she left. Without giving too much away, I like how the Savannah section was understated. Some authors would have taken 1/3 of a book to describe getting there, being there, and getting over it, but O'Connell managed to convey an important moment without being bombastic, and isn't that how life always works? A lovely book from an exciting young author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful treasure of a read Aug. 26 2012
Format:Paperback
What a beautiful book. A timeless treasure. If you liked A Complicated Kindness, you'll be equally moved by this novel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Sept. 6 2012
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
3.5 stars...

In her debut novel, Grace O'Connell explores the effects of Carol Pierce's suicide. Profoundly troubled, Carol walks into the Don River with her pockets full of zircon from her New Age shop and leaves behind her husband and 23-year-old daughter, Maggie. Soon, Maggie begins to experience blackouts that signal the presence of an intruding, alternate reality.

The novel opens with Maggie’s first blackout and continues on to describe the ways in which she tries to regain control of her life. O'Connell moves seamlessly between the real world and Maggie's consciousness and introduces provocative characters who shift along with this movement: Gil, a man Maggie has never met, who nonetheless sends her sympathetic postcards and strikes an ominous deal with her; Maggie's boyfriend, Andrew, and best friend, Wendy, who appear one way to Maggie and another way to the reader; and the psychiatrists who have varying degrees of investment in Carol's past.

Some of O'Connell's descriptions become tedious and she gets bogged down with details without developing larger plot elements. A potentially horrendous car accident, for example, ends in no injuries, no emotional trauma and gets no further mention in the story. But ultimately, "Magnified World" has a pleasing style and elegantly strips away multiple layers of perception to try and find stability in an unstable world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars should have been about the mother Jan. 25 2013
By Stephanie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book would have been more interesting if it were written about the mother, not the daughter.
The mother seemed to have more of a personality and a life.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Book Oct. 7 2012
By citygirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Magnified World is poetry in motion. The author has a complex tale to tell and does it in a narrative that captures the eye, ear and heart. Rarely do I find nothing to criticize, though, and this book is no exception. The title irks me - I've had endless difficulty remembering it when I spoke of the book as it was in progress and I don't really get it. Perhaps it is just me, but really, I just don't like the title.

The characters are rich and deep. They intertwine in ways that make sense, and the heroine, for that she is, is sympathetic even at her lowest points. Her journey is shared in a way that is sometimes vulnerable, sometimes sardonic, and there are - no spoilers though - a few surprises along the way. It is a tale of love and grief, loss and redemption and strength, all beautifully told. I've thoroughly enjoyed this book and will no doubt, at some point, reread it if only to enjoy the writing one more time.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Treasure of a Read Aug. 26 2012
By Lisa De Nikolits - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a beautiful book. A timeless treasure. If you liked A Complicated Kindness, you'll be equally moved by this novel.
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