The End of Mr. Y: A Novel Paperback – Oct 2 2006
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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Top Customer Reviews
Thomas sends Ariel the main character a female which I also loved on a quest worthy of the most brilliant traditions of sci-fi, fantasy and pop culture. I must read her other book Popco. But back to this book, the female character is intelligent, dirty, gritty and complex some might say a little freaky with the rough bondage sex but that’s what I like about her, she’s a true character with no apologies.
The back of the cover truly doesn’t do this book justice, it is so much more than a cursed book it’s about what knowledge can do for your mind, how the world can change for you, the troposphere is where time and space can all be manipulated according to your mind or others depending on how strong you are. This book really makes you want to drink coffee the main character is addicted to the stuff just like me and also just to learn as much as you can. I swear by the end of the book I thought that I would see the world in code, or I would find my own mind troposphere. The book delves in Derrida, Phenomenology, the interrelation of science and faith, creationists won't like this book and also language, I’m telling you you’ll love this book. Much praise for Scarlett Thomas!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
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.
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. Ariel is refreshingly candid about her history and her unfortunate tendency to wander down some unsavory romantic lanes. She's a forward character, technology-obsessed, casual about relationships, drifting a bit--and keenly observant of others.
Armchair Interviews says: If you're looking for an exciting story with a fantastical twist, dive into the world of Ariel Manto and The End of Mr. Y.
A very well-written, marvellously inventive and intelligent book about... I'm still not sure, but I loved every minute of reading it. One of the usual drawbacks of books that are as crazily inventive as this one is that the ending doesn't quite live up to the book -- never fear. The ending was a bit sad, I thought, but it fit. Very satisfying, especially if you like sci fi elements in your fiction, and if you don't, this is the place to start.
Ariel embarks on bizarre psychosexual explorations in both the Troposphere and in the physical world, while frequently engaging in PhD-level discussions on super-advanced philosophy and relativity. This is the aspect of the book that will probably turn off many readers, as Ariel and the other characters descend into chapter-length egghead discussions, and usually right in the middle of the drama or action. Fortunately Scarlett Thomas seems to know plenty about such matters and she usually - but not always - keeps the brain exercises integrated with the plot. But I can't blame other readers for getting exasperated with the constant obscure references to Heidegger, Derrida, and Einstein - and such discussions really slow down the second half of the novel.
On the good side, the general plotline surrounding the cursed book and the Troposphere is consistently fascinating, and there are some pretty good developments in Ariel's character as she compares her own messed-up life to the possibilities of living in a purely mental realm, in which she can experience the thoughts and feelings of others. The deep-thinking characters are also a bonus for bookworms and philosophically-minded readers, and I bet that Scarlett Thomas could write a believable (if very dense) non-fiction textbook on the postructuralist physics ruminated on by her characters. However, I did not care for the story's ending and Thomas has crammed way too many cosmological and epistemological (gasp!) ideas into the storyline. Regardless of Thomas's ambition, it's very difficult to keep a theory-of-the-universe thought experiment like this under control. Regardless, this is a highly unique novel for readers of a certain mindset. [~doomsdayer520~]