Monday, January 24, 2011

Scarlett Yarn*


Above, a mural at 16th and Mission in San Francisco

I have been reading the latest book by Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe. Her breakout book was The End of Mr. Y, which had as its central character a disaffected but infinitely curious female writer/academic. The new book has as its central character a disaffected but infinitely curious female writer/teacher, otherwise it is a sort of mirror image of the earlier book - instead of having minimal attachments, the heroine is grounded (even mired) in connections with her friends and extended family. Instead of a somewhat forced transcendent ending, we leave the character in the midst of a morning walk, a little clearer about what she wants from life. I remember years ago a review of a Kurt Vonnegut book in which the reviewer described feeling toward him as one would feel toward a beloved, curmudgeonly uncle. Scarlett Thomas seems somehow familial if you are the sort of person who relates to a constantly questioning companion. She is most definitely not among those who believe that everything happens for a reason - she likes her universe unfathomable. Recommended for those who prefer questions to answers.

*Knitting is among the subjects explored in this book

11 comments:

Totalfeckineejit said...

Knitting aside I like the cut of this book's jib!
Questions are usually genuine, answers rarely so.

Fresca said...

Sounds good--I put it on hold at the library.
I was e-mailed a friend that if I were a novelist, I would write about "blur, whooziness, and uncertainty".

And, now that I've knitted a few rows, maybe about the reassuring pace of knitting too...

ger said...

Curmudgeonly... - that certainly is a word to chew on (+ I´m off to find the dictionary...)

Celeste Bergin said...

Like the mural and the title of Thomas' book. "unfathomable" is also a delightful word

Titus said...

With you on the 'somewhat forced transcendent ending' and thanks for the heads-up, as my latest Amazon list (initiated by a search for a Margaret Atwood) needs bumping up to free delivery status!

Charles Gramlich said...

Very cool murial.

Clowncar said...

"she likes her universe unfathomable"

great line. me too!

I've said before that reading Vonnegut is like sitting down at a bar with an old friend, listening to him talk. His writing is all sorta one long conversation. Soothing.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

thomas is now on my list of must reads!!

ah, and that mural! i hope i can check it out! and unexpected and unplanned opportunity has arisen which will be bringing me to sf for a few days in early february!!!

yipppeeeee!!!!

maybe we can have a meet up!! i'll send you an email with some details.

the dear Zé said...

amazing thing...

ArtSparker said...

DZ- you would love the Mission area.

Leovi said...

Really wonderful and amazing