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Not the End of the World by [Atkinson, Kate]
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Not the End of the World Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Length: 277 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Atkinson, who began her career with Behind the Scenes at the Museum, a Whitbread Book of the Year, and enjoyed good reviews for two more novels, now gathers together this suite of comparatively loosely connected stories. Atkinson's work has grown increasingly diffuse; her most recent book, Emotionally Weird, was printed in three fonts, representing separate strings of narrative. This collection takes that conceit without the typesetting extravagance one step further, opening and closing on two women who seem to tell one another the intervening tales. Atkinson's Scheherazades, singletons of indeterminate age named Charlene and Trudi, appear first in "a food hall as vast as a small city," and by the book's end which may or may not be the end of the world they're starving to death in a squalid, freezing flat in what feels like an apocalyptic present. In the women's restless imaginations, readers meet more than one girlfriend (in different stories, and each unbeknownst to the other) of a man named Hawk; a gaggle of perfect-toothed American Zane sisters; and a governess who may or may not be a goddess. Some of Atkinson's devices a giant cat who impregnates a woman with kittens, an evil twin who gets to have all the fun make for stories as simple as fables, but some, like the nanny goddess and the virtuoso, multiple-voiced "Dissonance," are sharp and memorable, full of astutely observed family dynamics. While not as intense or as unified as Atkinson's full-length work, this is a sharp and wholly original collection.
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From Booklist

Although they don't carry quite the emotional weight of George Saunders' brilliant stories (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, 1996), Atkinson's exceptionally entertaining tales display the same wild inventiveness. Sometimes the same characters and images (she is especially fond of wolf-skin gloves and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) recur in the 12 stories collected here, which, in the main, feature delightfully witty people marshaling their resources to confront a world that often disappoints. In "Unseen Translation," a nanny who resembles a "Marine Corps Mary Poppins" spirits eight-year-old Arthur away from his wealthy, neglectful parents. In the more somber "Sheer Big Waste of Love," Addison Fox, whose mother was a prostitute, carries with him the memory of being violently rejected by his wealthy father; however, an encounter with the man's legitimate children makes him realize things could have been much worse. Other titles feature people coping with the end of the world by going shopping and a woman killed in a car wreck who finds she is invisible, housebound, and addicted to Oprah. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3371 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B000FILLXW
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (May 5 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028MVH3C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
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Format: Hardcover
I'm willing to bet that Kate Atkinson didn't color inside the lines when she was a little girl. She's a born subversive, and her charming, alarming, crazy quilt fiction catches the reader off-balance. "Normal" categories get messed with: Realism morphs without warning into fantasy; past, present and future are melded and skewed; people are never quite what they seem. These qualities shone in her first and most brilliant book, BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM (the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1995), as well as in two other novels (HUMAN CROQUET and EMOTIONALLY WEIRD), and they are equally evident in NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, a collection of 12 stories.
The narratives are neither clearly connected nor totally distinct (Atkinson doesn't do anything conventionally). Occasionally she recycles characters: The sullen adolescents whom she evokes with absolutely perfect pitch in "Dissonance" reappear, a few years older but still obnoxious, in "Wedding Favors." More frequently, though, a featured player in one story becomes a peripheral character in another; members of the Zane family, a large American clan, thread their way in and out of several tales, as do a self-absorbed celebrity mom and a nanny who is a worthy successor to Mary Poppins. Detecting these links is wonderfully diverting for the reader --- kind of like a Chinese puzzle --- and it also has the effect of unifying the collection. Atkinson's people all seem to inhabit more or less the same eccentric universe, which is Scotland (she lives in Edinburgh) and at the same time another place: more mysterious, less nameable.
Usually I prefer my "magical" and my "realism" well separated, like carrots and peas on a dinner plate.
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Format: Hardcover
Not the End of the World is an anthology of loosely related pieces. These stories all drift around the common theme of the End of the World. Whether it is on a global scale, or simply changing one's path through life, these World Ending events are never addressed directly. Like so many people, the characters in "Not the End of the World," rarely meet their fate directly. Then again, events that often appear to be the End of the World are not really the end of the world at all.
In keeping with the theme of not facing an event directly, what is most intriguing about these pieces is not the central plot, but rather the peripheral occurrences. For example, in the first piece "Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping," the plot is summed up by the first sentence, "'I want,' Charlene said to Trudi, 'to buy my mother a birthday present.'" In the end, Charlene finds a present; however, that is not what is fascinating about the story. What is fascinating are the details in the periphery hinting that the end of the world is nigh. It is a world where men see how drunk they can get before the curfew, bombs explode in the distance and the city runs out of diesel and gin. But these details do not directly relate to the selection of a birthday present.
In the subsequent pieces, the intriguing peripheral aspects come in the form of defining a larger picture. How are these vignettes related? On the surface, these pieces are related through the relationships between the characters of each story. There is though a deeper relationship, just waiting for reader to tease it out.
Despite the lack of a emphasis on plot, this collection is continuously fascinating. What "Not the End of the World," has to say about life is not something that can be easily expressed. Like any good magician, Kate Atkinson does not reveal how she performs her tricks.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Not the End of the World," by Kate Atkinson, is a collection of loosely joined short stories initially published in 2002. Each story is more of a character study than anything else, and all of the characters are very interesting in and of themselves. One character from one story will show up as an incidental person in another story, and so each tale is linked, albeit in ways that the characters themselves don't actually know about. Of these dozen stories, my absolute favourite was "Sheer Big Waste of Love" (the title itself refers to how a character in an earlier story describes Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"), about Addison, the offspring of a wealthy car dealer and a prostitute, and how not having his father in his life shaped him; it's very poignant without being the least bit sentimental. These days, Atkinson is perhaps best known for her Jackson Brodie series, and if you like those works, you'll like her earlier, short fiction as it is embued with the same combination of difficult circumstances and somewhat sarcastic humour; recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly fabulous collection of short stories, the book opens with the very intriguing, ironic tale of two women who seem to be carrying on life as usual while in the middle of apocalyptic chaos. The rest of the stories in the book similarly are a mix of the completely mundane and usual and the mythical and extraordinary. Like the Greek myths updated for our time. On one hand the stories are about single mothers, college students, divorcees, troubled teens, hookers, orphans, nannies, office workers, best friends, and hapless husbands. But on the other they are stories of Eos, Artemis, Selene, mermaids, Nereids, Ra, Hades, and Helios. Kate Atkinson magically weaves these themes together in such a way that you are never bored and can never pinpoint the separation of fantasy from reality.
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