Kate Atkinson has won several prizes for her short fiction. Her first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum was
chosen as the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. Her other novels are Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird. She lives in Edinburgh.
These linked stories transport us to a near-recognizable future in the aftermath of an unidentified global malfunction-not the end of the world but close to it. Throughout, the quirky characters morph and then reappear as their former selves. The first story centers on Arthur, the surprisingly solemn eight-year-old son of a tabloid celebrity mother who abandons him to pursue a career in Hollywood, leaving him in the care of his no-nonsense nanny, Missy. Missy spirits Arthur away to the Continent, where he sees incredible new things-like his missing father. Elsewhere, we meet Fletcher, a media journalist dismayed by reports of his carousing behavior during evenings he cannot remember, who videotapes himself sleeping in order to discover the truth. And after being killed in a car accident, Marianne returns home to observe her family carrying on without her. Some months later, she returns to life, none the worse for her time spent as a ghost. These jazzy, offbeat stories studded with pop cultural references will appeal to Atkinson's fans and to all readers of smart, trendy fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/03.]-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Moving and funny and crammed with incidental wisdom.
-- "Sunday Times"
"""Exceptional... Sharp, witty and completely compelling."
"I can think of few writers who can make the ordinary collide with the extraordinary to such beguiling effect... left me so fizzing with admiration."
"An exceptionally funny, quirky and bold writer."
--In"dependent on Sunday
"Moving and funny, and crammed with incidental wisdom."
--"The Sunday Times""
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. (Dec. 3) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.