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Emotionally weird : a comic novel by Kate…

Emotionally weird : a comic novel (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Kate Atkinson

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1,403355,401 (3.54)91
Title:Emotionally weird : a comic novel
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:London : Doubleday, 2000.
Collections:Your library, Books Read, Read 2013 (inactive)
Tags:British fiction, Scotland, Academia, Read 2013, Europe

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Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson (2000)


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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
I had hoped that this early phase novel of Atkinson's would be as wonderful as her "Human Croquet" but I was rather disappointed by it. The first half was a long slog because there was really very little to grab the attention. The second half had more pace and there were plenty of laughs along the way but overall I did not find this as rewarding as her second novel. In many ways the pace, level of detail and number of briefly appearing characters reminded me more of her first novel. The final few chapters provide an impressive end. ( )
  NeilDalley | Dec 22, 2016 |
On the face of it I wouldn't like this. Confused & careless college students who take drugs instead of striving to learn or even get a degree are not characters I'd empathize with. Nor do I read mysteries, and underneath all the literary stylings the 'plot' was a mystery. Yet somehow I finished it and was glad I did. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Very "weird’ book! It begins with a murder mystery, which is actually a creative writing assignment for Effie, a college student in 1970s Scotland. This tale unfolds in parallel to the main story, in which Effie is searching for the truth about her family history and parentage. "My mother who is not my mother" quickly becomes a very worn out phrase. The cast of characters is so huge that you need an appendix to keep everyone straight, although you might not want to. Everyone is so busy having sex, getting stoned, and being intellectual that it becomes tiresome. They’re all shallow, bitchy, and slovenly. To wit, what's up with the rotten food being served all the time (think Polanski's rabbit in "Repulsion")? Maybe that's supposed to show how wild and crazy everyone was back in the 70’s. And just to make it more confusing, the author uses different fonts to indicate whose writing excerpt we’re reading; you don’t know what’s true and what isn't for most of the book. The best moment is when Effie's mother, Nora, interrupts her storytelling to ask, “Does this story have a plot?" It does not. Nora even complains that "there are too many characters and I can't keep them straight." She’s right. In the end, the reveal about Effie's parentage is a nice twist, but you have to be stoned for it all to make sense. ( )
  sushitori | Apr 27, 2016 |
Wonderful and very funny. It feels like the author had great fun writing this novel. ( )
1 vote Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
Effie and her mother Nora tell each other stories of their lives, interspersed with fictional endeavours. ( )
  mari_reads | Oct 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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For Lesley Denby, nee Allison, with love.
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Inspector Jack Gannett drove into Saltsea-on-Sea along the coast road.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031227999X, Paperback)

Readers who survive the first 20 pages of this dense and playful novel, with its three different openings, constant jokes, and crowded cast of characters, will find themselves rewarded with a leisurely postmodern romp through the student ferment and bodily indulgences of the early 1970s. Although the publisher has called Emotionally Weird a comic novel, it is essentially unclassifiable, both further-reaching and less "meaningful" than it first appears. Kate Atkinson's book begins with chapter 1 of a bad murder mystery being written by Effie Andrews for a creative-writing course at the University of Dundee in 1972. But the action soon shifts to a wintry island in the Hebrides, where Effie is trying to elicit the story of her parentage from her single mother, Nora, while spinning a humorous first-person narrative of her college life. Only near the end of the book does she finally wrench the story from her mother: Effie's bizarre origins; the identity of her father; and the whole unlikely tale of her mother's family.

Like a Borgesian labyrinth, with other stories thrown in, including a laughably convenient introduction of magic realism, it is impossible to know what to take seriously--or "jocoseriously," to paraphrase another of Atkinson's influences: the Joyce of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. In her third novel, much of Atkinson's humor is incidental, even parenthetical. (We are told in passing, for example, that Effie's dissertation is called "Henry James: Man or Maze?") She is at her best when introducing her eccentric characters, such as the elderly Professor Cousins, who is sometimes lucid, sometimes not. "As with anyone in the department," Effie explains, "it wasn't always easy to distinguish between the two states. The university's strict laws of tenure dictated that he had to be dead at least three months before he could be removed from behind his desk." Professor Cousins, like the author, enjoys word games along the order of those in Alice in Wonderland, and Atkinson's use of Scottish idiom comes to function as a sort of word game. She also brings in a few killjoys (a militant feminist, a militant Christian, a literary theorist) to complicate an already loopy narrative and to spike the punch.

Janice smelt of piety and coal tar soap. She had recently become a Christian, a neophyte of a student Christian fellowship whose members roamed the corridors of Airlie, Belmont and Chalmers Halls looking for likely converts (the afraid, the alone, the abandoned) and those who needed to use the Bible to fill in the spaces where their personalities should have been.
As Emotionally Weird develops, Atkinson relies more and more on the postmodern gag of characters commenting on the unfolding action. There is no telling how she finally draws these disparate threads onto a single spool, but in the end, even the slightest subplots are neatly tied up and the most transient characters accounted for. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Seeking refuge in the ancient, mouldering home of their ancestors on an island off the coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother Nora reveal the secrets of their past and present lives and loves to each other.

(summary from another edition)

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