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Beyond Black

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Beyond Black Cover

ISBN13: 9780805073560
ISBN10: 0805073566
Condition: Student Owned
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Excerpt

Beyond Black

one
Travelling: the dank oily days after Christmas. The motorway, its wastes looping London: the margin's scrub grass flaring orange in the lights, and the leaves of the poisoned shrubs striped yellow-green like a cantaloupe melon. Four o'clock: light sinking over the orbital road. Teatime in Enfield, night falling on Potter's Bar. There are nights when you don't want to do it, but you have to do it anyway. Nights when you look down from the stage and see closed stupid faces. Messages from the dead arrive at random. You don't want them and you can't send them back. The dead won't be coaxed and they won't be coerced. But the public has paid its money and it wants results.
A sea-green sky: lamps blossoming white. This is marginal land: fields of strung wire, of treadless tyres in ditches, fridges dead on their backs, and starving ponies cropping the mud. It is a landscape running with outcasts and escapees, with Afghans, Turks and Kurds: with scapegoats, scarred with bottle and burn marks, limping from the cities with broken ribs. The life forms here are rejects, or anomalies: the cats tipped from speeding cars, and the Heathrow sheep, their fleece clotted with the stench of aviation fuel.
Beside her, in profile against the fogged window, the driver's face is set. In the back seat, something dead stirs, and begins to grunt and breathe. The car flees across the junctions, and the space the road encloses is the space insideher: the arena of combat, the wasteland, the place of civil strife behind her ribs. A heart beats, taillights wink. Dim lights shine from tower blocks, from passing helicopters, from fixed stars. Night closes in on the perjured ministers and burnt-out pedophiles, on the unloved viaducts and graffitied bridges, on ditches beneath mouldering hedgerows and railings never warmed by human touch.
Night and winter: but in the rotten nests and empty setts, she can feel the signs of growth, intimations of spring. This is the time of Le Pendu, the Hanged Man, swinging by his foot from the living tree. It is a time of suspension, of hesitation, of the indrawn breath. It is a time to let go of expectation, yet not abandon hope; to anticipate the turn of the Wheel of Fortune. This is our life and we have to lead it. Think of the alternative.
A static cloud bank, like an ink smudge. Darkening air.
It's no good asking me whether I'd choose to be like this, because I've never had a choice. I don't know about anything else. I've never been any other way.
And darker still. Colour has run out from the land. Only form is left: the clumped treetops like a dragon's back. The sky deepens to midnight blue. The orange of the streetlights is blotted to a fondant cerise; in pastureland, the pylons lift their skirts in a ferrous gavotte.
Copyright © 2005 by Hilary Mantel

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kriskeil, January 5, 2007 (view all comments by kriskeil)
Hillary Mantel's Beyond Black paints a compelling portrait of Allison, an English psychic, whose painful childhood frequently intrudes itself into her daily life. The book combines ugly realism with quite believable otherworldliness and acid humour. A good portrayal of the squalid side of English life, with several well-developed supporting characters, also from the world of the psychic community. Impossible to put down!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805073560
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Mantel, Hilary
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Humorous
Subject:
Divorced women
Subject:
Occult
Subject:
Female friendship
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
John MacRae Books
Publication Date:
May 9, 2005
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
16.8 x 11.9 x 7.6 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Horror » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z

Beyond Black Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.00 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805073560 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Instead of celebrating the mystical side of 'sensitives,' the people who travel England's contemporary psychic 'fayre' circuit, Mantel (A Change of Climate, etc.) concentrates on the potential banality of spiritualism in her latest novel, a no-nonsense exploration of the world of public and private clairvoyance. Colette is a down-on-her-luck event planner fresh from a divorce when she attends a two-day Psychic Extravaganza, her 'introduction to the metaphorical side of life.' There, Alison, a true clairvoyant, 'reads' Colette, sees her need for a new life — as well as her potential — and hires her as a Girl Friday. As Colette's responsibilities grow, and the line between the professional and the personal blurs, Colette takes over Alison's marketing, builds her Web site, plans for a book and buys a house with her. Colette also serves as a sort of buffer between Alison and the multitude of spirits who beleaguer her. (Alison's spirit guide, Morris, 'a little bouncing circus clown,' proves especially troublesome.) Mantel's portraits of the two leading characters as well as those of the supporting cast — both on and off this mortal coil — are sharply drawn. This witty, matter-of-fact look at the psychic milieu reveals a supernatural world that can be as mundane as the world of carpet salesmen and shopkeepers. (May) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Beyond Black is an odd-couple story, of a medium who is fat and generous and her assistant who is thin and stingy. Equally, it opposes the dead to the living, spirit world to our world, the professional to the punter, and the commodified to the real; while, as a side issue, the emasculated antics of contemporary men are compared with the grosser folkways of their fathers and grandfathers, to the keen detriment of both. But these oppositions are never secure. They infect one another, they share boundary conditions, they steal one another's best tunes." (read the entire Times Literary Supplement review)
"Review" by , "The mark of a great novelist may be the ability to take you where you truly don't want to go. If so, Mantel is the real goods....Superbly odd, but still superb."
"Review" by , "A contemporary ghost story told with humor and heart, this novel is sure to conjure up new readers for Mantel."
"Review" by , "This is, I think, a great comic novel. Hilary Mantel's humor, like Flannery O'Connor's, is so far beyond black it becomes a kind of light."
"Synopsis" by , Troubles spiral out of control when a psychic and her assistant move to a suburban wasteland in what was once the English countryside and take up with a spirit guide and his drowned therapist in this darkly comic, unorthodox novel. 25,000.
"Synopsis" by ,
Hailed as a "writer of subtlety and depth," Hilary Mantel turns her dark genius on the world of psychics in this smart, unsettling novel (Joyce Carol Oates)

A paragon of efficiency, Colette took the next natural step after finishing secretarial school by marrying a man who would do just fine. After a sobering, do-it-yourself divorce, Colette is at a loss for what to do next. Convinced that she is due an out-of-hand, life-affirming revelation, she strays into the realm of psychics and clairvoyants, hungry for a whisper to set her off in the right direction. At a psychic fair in Windsor she meets the charismatic Alison.

Alison, the daughter of a prostitute, beleaguered during her childhood by the pressures of her connection to the spiritual world, lives in a different kind of solitude. She cannot escape the dead who speak to her, least of all the constant presence of Morris, her low-life spiritual guide. An expansive presence onstage, Alison at once feels her bond with Colette, inviting her to join her on the road as her personal assistant and companion.

Troubles spiral out of control when the pair moves to a suburban wasteland in what was once the English countryside and take up with a spirit guide and his drowned therapist. It is not long before Alison's connection to the place beyond black threatens to uproot their lives forever. This is Hilary Mantel at her finest- insightful, darkly comic, unorthodox, and thrilling to read.

"Synopsis" by ,
 
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
Colette and Alison are unlikely cohorts: one a shy, drab beanpole of an assistant, the other a charismatic, corpulent psychic whose connection to the spiritual world torments her. When they meet at a fair, Alison invites Colette at once to join her on the road as her personal assistant and companion. Troubles spiral out of control when the pair moves to a suburban wasteland in what was once the English countryside. It is not long before the place beyond black threatens to uproot their lives forever. This is Hilary Mantel at her finest--insightful, darkly comic, unorthodox, and thrilling to read.
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