I loved The End of Mr. Y– the blending of science with a fast paced plot produced a book that both informed and entertained me. I was excited to see that Scarlett Thomas had a new book out – especially once I saw that it shared the same gold lettering and mysteriously black page edges! Unfortunately Our Tragic Universe wasn’t in the same league as The End of Mr Y, but it did have many enjoyable sections.
Our Tragic Universe begins with Meg, a genre fiction writer, trying to review a book which claims that we will all be resurrected at the end of the world. Meg has complex relationships with all her friends and family, but most seem willing and able to hold interesting philosophical discussions with her. The book centres on these discussions, as Meg tries to understand the world around her. I loved reading all these little bits of philosophy:
I know very little philosophy, but had heard of some of the examples before. I have a suspicion that anyone with a knowledge of philosophy would be familiar with many of the arguments already.
Many of the discussions focused on the role of a story – whether life is a narrative or if books can be good without a beginning, middle or end. Our Tragic Universe seemed to be challenging these notions by reflecting life. The book had no plot and was just a series of scenes which were interesting on their own, but I found I was craving that narrative drive.
Meg was a realistic, lovable character, but I wish that the plot had some forward momentum. A few plot points were introduced, but the majority were left unresolved – again mirroring real life. The book makes a good discussion starter, but I finished the book feeling a little let down by the lack of any real events. Perhaps this says more about my expectations as a reader, but I do like my books to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Overall I recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little bit different, but don’t expect a fast paced narrative or a clean resolution to anything!
The thoughts of other bloggers:
I enjoyed trying to make sense out of it. The Truth About Lies
…and although this novel did give me the warm and fuzzies, it’s a pretty sharp and observant treatise on contemporary life. Chasing Bawa
I can appreciate that Our Tragic Universe is very good at what it does – as I said earlier, though, liking it is a different matter. Follow The Thread
Have you enjoyed any books without a beginning, middle or end?