Our Tragic Universe

Our Tragic Universe

Book - 2010
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The newest novel by Scarlett Thomas, this time centering on the end of the universe, the possibilty of superbeings, a mysterious beast of the moor, and the nature of storytelling.

Baker & Taylor
Struggling with writer's block, Meg Carpenter takes a job reviewing a pseudo-science book promising everlasting life, an assignment that exposes her to New Age rituals that distort her sense of reality.

Blackwell Publishing

Can a story save your life?

Meg Carpenter is broke. Her novel is years overdue. Her cell phone is out of minutes. And her moody boyfriend’s only contribution to the household is his sour attitude. So she jumps at the chance to review a pseudoscientific book that promises life everlasting.

But who wants to live forever?

Consulting cosmology and physics, tarot cards, koans (and riddles and jokes), new-age theories of everything, narrative theory, Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and knitting patterns, Meg wends her way through Our Tragic Universe, asking this and many other questions. Does she believe in fairies? In magic? Is she a superbeing? Is she living a storyless story? And what’s the connection between her off-hand suggestion to push a car into a river, a ship in a bottle, a mysterious beast loose on the moor, and the controversial author of The Science of Living Forever?

Smart, entrancing, and boiling over with Thomas’s trademark big ideas, Our Tragic Universe is a book about how relationships are created and destroyed, how we can rewrite our futures (if not our histories), and how stories just might save our lives.

& Taylor

"Meg Capenter is broke. Her novel is years overdue. So when a book called The Science of Living Forever lands on her desk, she jumps at the chance to review it, starting on a labyrinthine journey that takes her from mysterious beasts of the moor to forest fairies to ships in bottles. New Age theories of everything to physics to narrative theory, and forces her to ask: Does anyone really want to live forever? Our Tragic Universe finds connections where we didn't know they existed, breaks down conventions that keep us from our destinies, and shows us how we just might be able to rewrite our futures"--Cover, p. 4.
Struggling with writer's block, dwindling resources and a deadbeat boyfriend, Meg Carpenter jumps at a chance to review a pseudo-science book promising everlasting life, an assignment that exposes her to a cornucopia of New Age and fantastical rituals that distort her sense of reality.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780151013913
Characteristics: 372 p. : map ; 24 cm


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Aug 15, 2018

Scarlett Thomas is a daring British writer who explores areas of contemporary thought where many will not go. This novel has a band of people who would have been beat or hippie in earlier eras, but live in a more contemporary world. I think her focus was her own Gen X, and I hope the millennials can find a writer of her quality. She deconstructs the world of patriarchy in funny and convincing ways, while keeping a postmodern tone. We grow to appreciate and like her cast of characters. I see lately she has moved into the world of young adult fiction. Her "The End of Mr. Y" seems to remain the book readers like most.

fisnik Aug 07, 2013

I took a couple of tries to get started, but I enjoyed it once I got going. The book is very much worth reading. Has lots of intelligent conversations that are very well written. Yes, it's about New Age stuff but it is not a New Age book. And although there is talk among the writer-characters about the "storyless story", the book does have a story - in fact, it has several.
Five stars.

Apr 12, 2011

Took a while to get into & I really wanted to give the main character a bit of a shake at times but ultimately I enjoyed this novel.

Jan 24, 2011

I tried very hard to read this, but I just couldn't.

debwalker Nov 18, 2010

Metaphysical chick lit? Ostensibly the story of a writer adrift in her career and relationship, the book quickly becomes, via the female protagonist’s whip-smart digressions, a meditation on the question of whether life and books are better off plotless.
#1 on the New York Times list of most anticipated fiction and nonfiction of fall 2010.


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