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Man or Mango?

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Eloise is the sad, mad, and hermetic heroine at the center of Lucy Ellmann's hilarious new novel. A middle-aged ceilist who hides herself away in a tiny British cottage, she blames the world for its lack of love, and similarly despises it for its anger. Not until her beloved cello is stolen -- and her former lover, an American poet named George, returns -- does Eloise emer ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Picador USA (first published 1998)
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3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  181 ratings  ·  27 reviews


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MJ Nicholls
Eloise, with umlaut, is a self-hating woman of private means who loathes leaving the house. Speaking to the mailman causes her hours of trauma, as do basic phone or street interactions, particularly those with negative outcomes. She curls up with her cats making lists when she isn’t fretting about washing her hair. George, her ex, is an American poet composing an epic on ice hockey whose chauvinism is coming to an end with an acute case of writer’s block. After a hundred pages of existential cra ...more
Tuck
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, if quirky novel about meaningfulness in human lives. What makes our lives worth living? Family and friends? Love? Work? A Zen-like appreciation for all the universe, of which we are just a tiny part? Or, according to this novel, not a damn thing, we are just as big a piece of shit as comes out our bums. We are no more important or insightful than the wrack whipping to and fro on a cold boulder somewhere on the sea shore right this moment. This could be my new xmas story.
Alan
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
From my 1999 notebook:
Not for me. Starts well, funny, journalistic, lists thrown in, the holocaust, life of bees etc., but it deteriorates - for me - when it all decamps to C? (Can't make out my writing) and there's an earthquake and a tidal wave but frankly I didn't care. Although I did read on to the end.
Denise
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, in a way, is about losing faith in life, love and human beings in general. It is told in alternating narratives, each of which reveals an insight into the characters' lives and thoughts. My favorite, the main character, is Eloise, who "had watched her mother die lost, her father die angry, her old cat in her arms die all unknowing. And she had endured another loss that was like a death. She had seen how the body can let you down, she had no faith in it. Her own was an empty shell thro ...more
Evelyn
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
DNF @35%
This book was so weird and definitely not for me..
I thought it was about an introvert woman (which it was) who liked to make lists (also true), so I thought he that sounds a bit like me..
But this woman was so weird, just as George who was writing a poem about ice hockey ???
Idk, but definitely not for me ..
Kara
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
FANTASTIC.
UKEXPAT74
Schnell gelesen aber trivial.
Lizzy Baldwin
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think we’ll take this review step by step, The book follows the life of Eloise an unmarried British woman, nursing a very fragile and broken heart. After inheriting her father’s estate, she creates a hermit style existence inside a quaint Tudor cottage where she decides to hide from the world. She avoids any interaction with others and has specific times of recovery for each interaction, innocent glance her way (ten minutes) verbal contact (hours) having that verbal contact rejected by a frien ...more
Heather Adkins
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have nothing but good things to say about Lucy Ellman. I read Dot In The Universe a while back and loved it, and this book did not let me down. Between British rambling nonsense and the mating habits of bees, this novel is so full of universal truths about the human condition. The heroine is completely neurotic, the hero self obsessed but hopelessly in love, and all the crazy interruptions by various nonsensical characters just adds to the f**ked up view on people.

I love that you can seperate
...more
Monica Akinyi Odhiambo
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
When i started reading this book, I actually thougt i wouldn't finish it. It had a lot of quotes, lists and titbits about bees in between the book, that I wondered how all that encapsulates the story about Eloise and George. Eloise is one frustated lady ,weird with hermit like tendancies that are beyond crazy. She hates men, human company, anything that would require her to care about anybody. At some point she had me thinking 'Is there really a time in a woman's life where every man seems attra ...more
Lane Pybas
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: summer-2015
Man or Mango? follows the mishaps of a middle-aged misanthrope as she copes with the horrors of a social existence. Eloise, the heroine of this novel, spends her days calculating the time it will take her to mentally recover from encounters with the mailman and trying to forget her former lover George, a poet and pinball enthusiast. These characters and the novel’s weird obsessions (bees, hockey, and the Holocaust) would make this book flat out fun if it weren’t for Ellmann’s heartbreakingly acc ...more
Lakota FHCS
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was a quick read, I picked up on the street in Brighton outside someone's house (they'd left a load of books out with a 'help yourself' sign) and I didn't know what to expect. I'm not sure the 'hilarity' promised quite materialised. Super black humour maybe. Interesting and some parts of Eloise's rants were excellent. Very experimental in tone - some parts are from a student of creative writing's notebook, which was the impression the whole book gave.

Also, lots about bees, and each chapter
...more
Steph
ok, i read this book randomly years ago, and i don't remember it at all, except for the literary technique of lists, lots of lists. i remember the lists seeming so novel and clever, and using it in my own fledgling creative writing attempts. i also remember being flustered by random holocaust references in the midst of romantic musing. i think the book itself was pleasantly skitso. i think i might have to read this again.
Holly
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellman uses lists and pictures (which I love) and historical tidbits and caplital letters in this novel, and I felt some worked (I love the capitals) and some didn't (the historical facts felt out of place - why insert a quote from Thomas Hardy in the middle of your writing...?). I read that Ellman does not really expect anyone to identify with her characters, so I was alarmed to find much in common w/ Eloise! What's wrong w/ being a misantropist?! I will definitely read more from Ellman!
Jessica Haider
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it
"Man or Mango" was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

This was a quirky, clever, little novel about some rather unique characters. The book is riddled with lists, letters, and poetry created by the characters. The author's black comedy made it an entertaining read, but it may not be for everyone.
Esther
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Lucy Ellmann is an author unlike any other I've ever read. Her style is completely her own and there isn't any way to explain what exactly this book is, but it is wonderful and if you're reading this review, you should definitely read it.
Olivier Lepetit
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good little book, very alive - although it can feel extremely disjointed with a story in the background, it is read very quickly and you find yourselves pondering the future of the main characters. Curiously engaging book.
Bridget
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dot in the Universe is one of my favorite books ever so I've slowly been working my way through the rest of Ellmann's books but this one didn't really grab me. I'll keep trying.
Jodie
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was such a fun and interesting book. It's a short, easy read that keeps your interest peeked by weaving multiple stories into one seamless ending.
Kari
Nov 05, 2009 added it
worst book ever
diana
May 23, 2007 marked it as to-read
another library find. i thought Dot in the Universe was hilarious, so i got pretty excited at discovering another book by lucy ellman.
Gi-Gi Downs
May 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
This was a fun little vacation read. Didn't require much attention or commitment but I remember enjoying it highly... along with a poncy poolside drink.
Brianne
An interesting read...I was a little lost at the beginning but I really enjoyed how it all came together at the end.
Tim
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-fiction
The daughter, I believe, of the great critic Richard Ellmann (Joyce scholar). Funny stuff.
Raquel
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Lucy Ellmann was born in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of biographer Richard Ellmann and writer Mary Ellmann (née Donahue). She moved to England at the age of 13 and was educated at Falmouth School of Art (Foundation degree, 1975), Essex University (BA, 1980), and the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA, 1981).

Her highly-praised autobiographical first novel, Sweet Desserts, was awarded the Guardian
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“GENERAL STATEMENT FOR ALL CONCERNED: I do not wish you to be perturbed in any way by my current uncommunicative behaviour. I wish it to be known that I am not pursuing any friendships at the moment because I can not think of anything to say and I suspect I am bad for people. I am too egotistically involved in my own decay to focus on the troubles and triumphs of others...” 5 likes
“What is the point of labeling each individual piece of fruit? Buy the fruit, EAT the ad! We've carved a chunk out of the ozone, burned up all the rainforests, soon we won't be able to BREATHE, and all because we had to label each individual piece of fruit.” 4 likes
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