Synopses & Reviews
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 boyfriends 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.
Thomas's delightfully whimsical novel riffs on the premise that ordinary lives stubbornly resist the tidy order that a fiction narrative might impose on them. Meg Carpenter a young writer living hand to mouth in Devon pens book reviews science fiction novels and pseudonymous YA thrillers while the serious literary novel she dabbles at keeps ballooning and shrinking back to the same 43 words. Though Meg reviews New Age titles that lay out organized plans for one's life (and afterlife) her own life is an unruly mess encompassing a slacker boyfriend and his amusingly dysfunctional family friends having extramarital affairs and associates who can't balance their vocations and avocations. Enough propitious coincidences occur to suggest her life might also admit the occasional intrusion of the magical. Thomas (Popco) dexterously mixes the serious with the humorous and provides a cast of characters who come across as credible owing to their recognizable foibles and fallibility. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Freewheeling intellectual journey with no destination....For the omnivorous reader who, like Meg, can't get enough of the insights and passions and theories and inner lives of others, Thomas's fifth novel should be an addictive delight." Kirkus Reviews
"Thomas alternately mines Meg's permanent writer's block for humor and terror, leading the larger book to mimic her decisions about the manuscript she can't just let go. Meg's endgame comes into view too soon, but Our Tragic Universe's discomfort with its own plot makes even its digressions into her reading list and her mundane fears curiously mesmerizing. (Grade: B+)" The Onion AV Club
"Few writers can mix science, philosophy, and humor as cleverly as Thomas, but [her] quirky stream of consciousness can be off-putting at first. Persistent readers will be charmed by Meg's outlook on life and rooting for her finally to discover her own unique voice. Best for readers who appreciate something out of the ordinary." Library Journal
"Our Tragic Universe surprised me with where it goes, and in such a terrific way. Scarlett Thomas's prose is so addictive you can't help but fall deeper and deeper under her spell. How does she do it? She is a genius." Douglas Coupland
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.
Can a story save your life?
Meg Carpenter 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 how we just might be able to rewrite our futures.
About the Author
SCARLETT THOMAS is the author of PopCo and The End of Mr. Y. She has been nominated for the Orange Prize and named Writer of the Year by Elle UK, one of the twenty best young writers by the Independent, and one of the Telegraphs 20 best writers under 40.