an inconclusive review of an inconclusive book

This is the third book authored by Scarlett Thomas that I’ve read. It’s interesting – I never fill quite fulfilled after reading one of her books, but when I spot a new one, I do pick it up and read it. I found this one at the library, in a stack of newly acquired English-language books. (That stack, by the way, is another reason I love my library.)

What I like about her books isn’t as much the writing, but that she picks up and plays with all kinds of philosophical concepts. This one dealt with narrativity, in particular, the notion of storyless stories versus the formulas used in (genre) fiction. I like how Thomas introduces intelligent, thoughtful characters and weaves these more philosophical questions into a narrative that is first and foremost about someone’s life – usually someone’s messy and somewhat miserable life. But I remain unfulfilled because her books tend to have an open end – both where the plot and the philosophical concept is concerned. This in contrast to, for example, Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club series, that features an editor of a philosophy journal and the ethical/philosophical dilemmas she faces in real life. McCall Smith tends to leave the philosophical problem pretty open (that, of course, is the beauty of philosophy, that it can never quite be resolved) but does somewhat close the plot – at least, till the next book. That fits me better.

But I have to say, normally I avoid such open-ended books, so it is quite the feat that Scarlett Thomas always has me coming back for more..



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