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The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

The End of Mr. Y (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Scarlett Thomas

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1,928None3,532 (3.77)189
Title:The End of Mr. Y
Authors:Scarlett Thomas
Info:Canongate Books Ltd (2008), Edition: Export ed, Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction, Books About Books, Magical Realism, Time Travel, 2012, 1 Star

Work details

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (2007)

Recently added bycristallisognanti, janehelen, sarah42, aspen42, lucace, private library, martinkalkerup, seite
2008 (14) 21st century (17) academia (15) books (11) books about books (33) British (22) curses (11) England (16) English (9) fantasy (119) fiction (288) literature (9) metafiction (14) mystery (39) novel (40) own (9) philosophy (81) physics (37) read (33) read in 2007 (12) read in 2008 (15) read in 2009 (10) religion (19) science (22) science fiction (71) sf (12) thought experiments (17) time travel (61) to-read (39) unread (22)
  1. 61
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (mpettitt)
    mpettitt: Another book where philosophical thinking is encouraged within the plot
  2. 20
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (gaskella)
  3. 20
    Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Scarlett Thomas' earlier novel The End of Mr Y shares many similar themes with Our Tragic Universe
  4. 10
    Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Anonymous user)
  5. 10
    The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (GirlMisanthrope)
  6. 10
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  7. 10
    The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (riverwillow)
  8. 10
    Darkmans by Nicola Barker (VisibleGhost, Widsith, debbiereads)
    Widsith: Both slightly bonkers Kent-based novels-of-ideas with supernatural elements...I think Barker is the better writer, but Thomas has the whole geeky-cool angle covered.
  9. 00
    The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor (GirlMisanthrope)

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» See also 189 mentions

English (90)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
I plan on reviewing this later after I've gotten thoughts together ( )
  raisedbybooks | Mar 12, 2014 |
Scarlett Thomas's unusual fantasy-rich novel is outside of my usual wheelhouse. I'm glad it ended up in my hands, because it was an utterly enjoyable book. Ariel is a graduate student whose advisor has disappeared. She finds a copy of a book that supposed didn't exist anymore, The End of Mr Y, that both she and her academic advisor had been interested in. She is then drawn into an odd world called the Troposphere, while being hunted by some unsavory men claiming to be with the CIA and helped by an ex-priest. It's an imaginative tale, studded with odd bits of philosophy and physics. It's kind of The Night Circus meets Sophie's World. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Aug 12, 2013 |
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. It was quite engrossing, but the scientist in me had a few issues. Homeopathy is presented as equally as valid as Newtonian physics, Quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity. Not on your nellie, baby. But if we ignore that quibble, the rest of the book is actually really enthralling.

It deals with a sphere called, in this book ,the Troposphere. this appears to be a plane of existence made entirely of thoughts, where it is possible to enter the mind of another. You know that moment when you catch someone's eye and you just know exactly what they're thinking? Well this is the plane that you're communicating on (this is about as best as I can explain it, it all gets a bit confusing to be honest). It's also the plain on which Gods exist - they are created and sustained by thoughts (prayer being, if you like merely a subset of thought). So when Ariel encounters a mouse god, he has limited power and influence, having only a small circle of believers praying to sustain him. How come this is the only God she meets in a plane that should be teeming with them is never satisfactorily explained.

If I have a complaint about this book it is that the main character is, frankly, someone I'd not want to meet. One of those from a tough background who uses that as a shield to justify being generally obnoxious. She makes a thing of being promiscuous and generally boastful of her wide ranging sexual experience - yet seems to be using this to elicit sympathy (aww, poor me - look what I've been reduced to). She's a PhD student, has no money, is not above driving away from petrol stations without paying and doesn't do much to endear herself to the world at large. To be honest I ended up more concerned with the fate of the book than her.

It rolls along at a fair old pace. It's inventive and has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing right to the very end. The concept is really intriguing, and the way that thought can be powerful enough to change the world is explored. I'm not very well read when it comes to philosophy, so have no idea if Derrida et al are well represented or not. Part of me want to read it again to work out the science, but I'm afraid that a more careful reading might identify a few more holes than the first, pacy, read through did. I may well leave it at that. ( )
  Helenliz | Aug 2, 2013 |
I feel a little overwhelmed by this novel. It drew me and pulled me along with promises of some sort of grand revelation, but I confess I spent most of the journey feeling like I was sprinting to keep up, and might never actually understand what was going on. Like so many other books about books I've read lately, this one seems to be a platform for the author to showcase her knowledge of a favorite subject and a few pet theories. I feel vaguely suspicious that the bulk of the plot was cooked up in order to support the Epilogue, but I did enjoy the story, so I won't go quite that far.

In the end, this was a surreal adventure laced a bit heavily with metaphysics and philosophy, but which concludes satisfactorily. If it leaves you with dozens of questions about possible plot holes or theoretical inconsistencies, the nature of the book itself serves as an excuse which makes all the problems seem more intentional than accidental.

Recommended by: Christa D. ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
Ariel is a PhD student working on the topic of thought experiments. Of particular interest to her is a book by Thomas E. Lumas called The End of Mr. Y that has been pretty much lost and is supposedly cursed. So Ariel can’t believe her luck when she stumbles upon the book in a second-hand bookshop by accident. Central to the book is the troposphere – a dimension where all conciousness connects. But there is more to it than just an out-of-print 19th century book and soon Ariel finds herself in over her head and on the run.

This is one of the (many) books that I have actually had on my bookshelf for years and been meaning to read for ages. And I’m incredibly glad I finally got around to it. It is really good – smart, philosophical, intellectual and extremely gripping.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-end-of-mr-y-scarlett-thomas/ ( )
  kalafudra | Jun 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
Thomas writes with marvelous panache, although I wish she indulged less in her earnest calls for homeopathy and animal rights. Amid all the novel’s engaging questions about the nature of reality, it’s hard to get worked up about a subplot that has Ariel traveling through time to save laboratory mice. Still, she spins Derrida and subatomic theory into a wholly enchanting alternate universe that should appeal to a wide popular audience, and that’s something no deconstructionist or physicist has managed to do. Consider “The End of Mr. Y” an accomplished, impressive thought experiment for the 21st century.
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But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to the signs that constitute faith? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer itself anything but a gigantic simulacrum--not unreal, but a simulacrum, that is to say never exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.--Jean Baudrillard
Indeed it is even possible for an entity to show itself as something which in itself it is not.--Martin Heidegger
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156031612, Paperback)

A cursed book. A missing professor. Some nefarious men in gray suits. And a dreamworld called the Troposphere?
Ariel Manto has a fascination with nineteenth-century scientists—especially Thomas Lumas and The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read. When she mysteriously uncovers a copy at a used bookstore, Ariel is launched into an adventure of science and faith, consciousness and death, space and time, and everything in between.
Seeking answers, Ariel follows in Mr. Y’s footsteps: She swallows a tincture, stares into a black dot, and is transported into the Troposphere—a wonderland where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. There she begins to understand all the mysteries surrounding the book, herself, and the universe. Or is it all just a hallucination?
With The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas brings us another fast-paced mix of popular culture, love, mystery, and irresistible philosophical adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Ariel Manto has a fascination with The End of Mr. Y, a book no one alive has read - maybe because it's cursed and everyone related to it (the author, various book collectors, Ariel's doctoral advisor) disappears. But suddenly she discovers a rare copy in a used bookstore. Using the book to follow in Mr. Y's footsteps, she falls into a trance and steps into the Troposphere - a wonderland of an alternate dimension where she can travel through time and space using the thoughts of others. And so Ariel launches into a heart-racing, brain-teasing, time-twisting adventure of science, faith, consciousness, death, and everything in between."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Canongate Books

Three editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 184195957X, 1847671179, 1847670709

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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