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The End of the World Book
This is no ordinary novel. An encyclopedia of memory—from A to Z—The End of the World Book deftly intertwines fiction, memoir, and cultural history, reimagining the story of the world and one man’s life as they both hurtle toward a frightening future. Alistair McCartney’s alphabetical guide to the apocalypse layers images like a prose poem, building from Aristotle to da Vi ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 13th 2008 by University of Wisconsin Press
(first published 2008)
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Alternately felt love, exasperation, and then love again for this book. Not perfect but the good parts I loved, the great parts dazzled me and filled me with joy, reminding me how wonderful it is to have creative thoughts about the everyday world we live in that skew it in fantastic ways.
The concept is irresistible: an encyclopedia of the self. A childhood obsession with the World Book Encyclopedia is here transformed into a "novel" (which it is only in the loosest sense of the term) filled with whimsical entries which range from autobiographical sketches, memories, musings, odes, conjectures and "histories" all neatly arranged, encyclopedia style, by key terms. Searching for a "hidden" narrative will be in vain (and it doesn't all lead up to an "aha!" moment), but common themes ...more
I bought this book intrigued by the premise and its audacious structure. Yes, it is a memoir/novel arranged alphabetically, with musings on everything from daVinci to Brittney Spears (whose entry is right next to that of Spinoza, probably the only place where those 2 entities could have met), and for the most part, found it funny and informative. But I also admit buying it based on the fact that it had no less than 4 or 5 stars from numerous readers, and didn't really pay attention to the ...more
"This is an inventive and experimental book, and a clever book. But it’s not a compelling book. There are interesting characters and subplots, but none are allowed to develop over and above the narrator’s presence. There’s an entry titled “Stories, Absence of,” under which McCartney writes, “take me seriously when I say I have no stories. I couldn’t tell a story to tell my life…” In a book that mixes fiction and fact, that may be the truest statement of all."
Read the rest of my review here:
Read the rest of my review here:
With a gorgeous, stream of consciousness writing style, Alistair McCartney's The End of the World Book takes us on an encyclopedic journey through the author's musings and life's experiences, both real and imagined. With wry humor and poetic edge, The End of the World Book combines both reality and daydream into a beautiful exploration of language itself, encouraging readers to explore their own relationship to the words which help shape their daily lives.
Sep 15, 2010 Jeremy rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of a 50's-era Reader's Digest thematic joke book, if the theme was philosophy and queer theory. Unceasingly clever and occasionally profound. Highly recommended.
Alistair McCartney is the author of The End of the World Book: a Novel (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008). An encyclopedia of memory–from A to Z–The End of the World Book was a finalist for both the PEN USA Fiction Award 2009 and the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 2009, and was in Seattle Times Best Ten Books of 2008. Born in Perth, Western Australia in 1971, McCartney's w ...moreMore about Alistair McCartney...