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The End of the World by Andrew Biss

The End of the World

by Andrew Biss

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I absolutely loved this book! This is a book that not everyone is going to love, but I enjoy the awkward. The ones that leave you with wonder, what happens next? Even telling the story is tough without giving away spoilers. The odd cast of characters, the way they spoke, and the odd parents of Valentine. It all settles comfortably inside my mind. While others thrash for understanding, I just want to relive it all over again.

Here I was supposed to just have a small break from a current read, and I got so sucked in I couldn't stop. Now, that's a book.:) ( )
  ReapersNovice | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is an oddball, quirky kind of book about the serious topics of change, death, and letting things go. To be honest there were times when I sat looking at a line or phrase and wondered to myself if it was meant to be funny or if it was accidentally funny. There were also times when I found myself questioning the age and mental abilities of the main character. He comes across as a young child, but certainly his parents wouldn't be throwing out anyone who wasn't old enough to take care of themselves?

For the most part, this is the kind of unique look on things that I really enjoy, so the story was just perfect for me. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of story that will appeal to anyone. You really are going to have to come in to the book with an open mind and a willingness to accept Alice in Wonderland type events in order to thoroughly enjoy it. ( )
  mirrani | Dec 21, 2012 |
I don't quite know what to write about this book - a very weird and surreal story to which there seems to be very little point or sense or interest, interspersed with very simplistic harangues about the evils of Western capitalist civilisation, and a dose of Tibetan Buddhism. Usually weird and surreal is fine by me but this made absolutely no sense whatever: if there was a meaning in passed me by totally.

Valentine is a young man seemingly in his early twenties, who has never been outside his parents' house as a result of their idiosyncratic ideas of child-rearing, and those ideas seem very strange indeed. Apparently the sole focus of his mother's life since he was born, he is informed brusquely at the start of the book that he must leave home the same day to make way for the new baby that, despite her advanced age, she claims to be expecting. Discarded without a second thought by his parents and completely unprepared for life in the outside world, he is mugged within a mile or two of his home, and finds refuge at the End of the World Bed and Breakfast.

Then if Valentine's home life was strange things start to get even stranger. Confronted by various characters such as the Bosnian woman whose stomach has been blown out by a neighbour with a shotgun or the strident money man who appears from the refrigerator and inveigles him into investing his last few pounds in a scheme to implant televisions into the foreheads of boring people, Valentine becomes more and more confused, as indeed does the reader. It soon becomes apparent that rather than escaping the mugger's bullet as he thought, he is actually dead and is in a halfway house between death and whatever comes next.

By this time the book had lost any internal logic that it might have started with, and seemed to lurch from one type of book to another. The initial chapters with Valentine's family were (I think) meant to be funny, although I didn't find them so, and then there were several sections criticising the West for allowing the sufferings of the rest of the world, detailing quite graphically the ways in which a person could be killed in the various troublespots of the world, which most definitely weren't. Plus quite a lot of moralising from a vaguely Buddhist perspective. It could have worked if it was done more subtly but subtle is something that this book is definitely not - rather it feels more like someone is hitting you over the head with a sledge hammer to get their point across.

So overall a hugely disappointing book. The basic idea could have been worked into something much more interesting and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed Kevin Brockmeier's A Brief History of the Dead which dealt with a similar idea of a halfway house between death and something else, but this was a total washout for me. ( )
  SandDune | Sep 12, 2012 |
Get ready for a zany roller-coaster ride that becomes more bizarre the further you get into this surreal story. Told with great verve and spiced through with wit, this hugely entertaining story will grab you, hold you and won’t leave you until the ride is over. Even then, the story will stick in the memory.
Andrew Biss says of one of his characters: “Hank, it appeared was either a brilliant, wildly imaginative entrepreneurial dynamo, or just stark raving mad.” This could, with equal justice be said of the author and after reading The End of the World I can but conclude that Andrew Biss is brilliant rather than mad.
He continues: “This concept of his, though certainly outlandish and bizarre-sounding on first hearing, still seemed to possess its own peculiar logic.” And so does The End of the World. This book can truly be described as novel which means new, strange, unusual, different, fresh, innovative, original, rare, singular, uncommon, unfamiliar, surprising and unique.
If you haven’t yet discovered the wit and wonder of this international playwright and author then prepare yourself for a rare treat.
And if you don’t find this unusual and imaginative writer exhilarating then you must be dead from the neck up! ( )
1 vote TheTortoise | Jan 7, 2012 |
Very entertainging short story about a young man thrust into the world by his parents only to end of getting mugged. He runs away from the criminal and ends up at a Bed and Breakfast named The End of the World and inside finds the most bizarre residents. Oddly enough his mother shows up and that is when he is told that he did not survive the mugging and that where he landed is a sort of purgatory until he can sort out her thoughts and then move on to where ever he is to go next. This story is very well written and laugh out loud funny and was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon on the sun. ( )
  Scoshie | Dec 6, 2011 |
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Accustomed to a life of cosseted seclusion at home with his parents, Valentine is suddenly faced with making his own way in the world. His new life is quickly upended, however, when he's mugged at gunpoint. Finding shelter at a mysterious inn run by the dour Mrs. Anna, he soon encounters a Bosnian woman with a hole where her stomach used to be, an American entrepreneur with a scheme to implant televisions into people's foreheads, and a Catholic priest who attempts to lure him down inside a kitchen sink. Then things start getting strange...

In this story based loosely around the state of Bardo from The Tibetan Book of the Dead - an intermediate state where the dead arrive prior to rebirth - dying is the easy part. Getting out of Bardo and returning to the land of the living is a far more perilous proposition, and unless you know what you're doing...you might never leave.

An odd, yet oddly touching tale of life, death, and the space in-between.
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