Share for friends:

Emotionally Weird (2001)

Emotionally Weird (2001)

Book Info

3.44 of 5 Votes: 2
Your rating
031227999X (ISBN13: 9780312279998)

About book Emotionally Weird (2001)

Can you see the cover of Emotionally Weird that I read? I don't know, but if it's a peach colored cover with a sort of crappy drawing of a redheaded woman smoking and a dog then you are seeing it? Or maybe you are seeing the new cover, which is dark and fits with the covers of Kate Atkinson's later novels? Or maybe you see the British covers with the big and dopey but cute looking dog on the cover? I read the peach colored one, with the girly script. The one that screams early to mid-ought chick-lit. The one that would make you think this is about a young woman who frets and worries that her almost perfect life is not a hundred percent perfect because she hasn't yet married the most amazing man in the world, but until then she will shop for shoes and complain about her glamourous job. That the author is Scottish and not English might be a hint that this isn't the case, but shouldn't England's neighbors to the North be able to produce self-absorbed novels for young and privileged young ladies?Normally, I believe that the maxim you can't judge a book by it's cover is bullshit. You can judge almost every book by it's cover, the cover is usually an excellent signpost to what you are getting into. Yeah, every now and then you'll have a book with some amazing Chip Kidd cover that turns out to be garbage, but it's rare that you are totally mistaken about what kind of book you are getting yourself into. Here though, the cover is totally misleading. I don't think there is a single shoe bought in the book, the narrator does pine for an unknown mystery man who she thinks it would be fabulous to get to make out with, but those moments of wistful yearning are just a few pages of the 350 that make up the novel. The rest of the novel is something that is much more Broom of the System era David Foster Wallace than anything by Sophie Kinsella or her ilk. You wouldn't expect a book with this cover to make jokes about Barthes and Adorno. At first when I started reading this book I took pains to hide the cover when reading it on the subway. I felt my already low masculinity was in danger of completely evaporating. But after a day or so of reading it, I stopped worrying about silly things like that, because even if I might be judged silently by strangers I knew that I was reading a very un-chick book, and a book that is quite good. So damn you judging strangers!The novel. The novel and the nature of telling stories is sort of what is going on in this book. The basic gist, without giving away too much is a young woman is telling a story, which may be true or may be a novel she's working on, to a woman who may be her mother or may not be. The story is about a few weeks in the winter of 1972 at a college in Dundee, Scotland. The narrator is an English major (is that what they call them over there across the pond?) who is writing a detective novel for a creative writing class, so the story breaks every now and then to have some of the awful student novel given in the text. Along with the interjection of this novel within the story, the 'real world' intrudes on the text too, with dialogue between the narrator and the woman who may or may not be her mother, and to give one last tweak to the stories within stories structure the woman who may or may not be the narrator's mother has her own story to tell. This sounds like a mess, but the way Atkinson handles these stories within stories is not nearly as difficult as I'm making it sound, it's more confusing to think about then to actually read. The use of different fonts for different narrative levels keeps the reader from getting lost. Like DFW's first novel, this is at heart a comic novel. It's more of a 'college' novel than DFW's, but you could almost imagine that the Amherst that shows up in Broom of the System exists in the same universe as Atkinson's Dundee. It's a lampoon of theory and the personalities that inhabit academia. It's filled with jokes mocking (post)structural theorists, student activists, and the swelled up egos of self-centered professors. Good stuff, but unfortunately even with the new 'darker' cover I don't think this book is ever going to call out to the type of reader who would enjoy it most.

Emotionally Weird is the third stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. It is the early seventies and twenty-one-year-old Euphemia Andrews (Effie) goes home to the family’s summer holiday house on a remote west coast Scottish island where she shares stories with her mother Eleanora (Nora). Effie relates recent events in her life at University in Dundee; Nora, at first unforthcoming, begins to reveal facts about Effie’s true heritage (like her real surname), eventually relating the history of the Stuart-Murray family, including the death of the aunt after whom Effie was named. In Dundee, while trying to meet essay deadlines for her English degree and thinking about leaving the incredibly lazy Bob, Effie becomes convinced she is being followed: there’s this woman in a red coat; and a middle-aged ex-cop turned PI named Chick driving a white Cortina keeps turning up. There are a few deaths that may or may not be natural; several people around her believe someone is trying to kill them; her friend Terri is looking for a lost yellow dog; her tutor’s son is released from prison. Effie relates the events at Dundee like a novel, with Nora interrupting to critique her characters, plot and dialogue. Similarly, Effie interjects into Nora’s story-telling. Atkinson’s character descriptions (and there is a large cast) are marvellously evocative. The description of the English tutorial (obviously taken from Atkinson’s own experience) is at once blindingly accurate and hilariously funny. The ongoing commentary on creative writing and the (over-)analysis of literature is clever and amusing. The atmosphere of early seventies is expertly conveyed. This is effectively a story (or several) within a story within a story, and Atkinson manages to include snippets of poetry, a play, a medieval fantasy saga, a crime novel, a metaphysical epic tome, and a Mills & Boon style romance, each printed in its own appropriate text style. While Effie’s story does seem to ramble on a bit, drawing criticism from Nora, Emotionally Weird has plenty of humour (some of it quite black) and enough intrigue to keep the reader engaged to the final pages. Another excellent dose of Atkinson.

Do You like book Emotionally Weird (2001)?

This is the sort of book I appreciated more in retrospect than during the reading itself. Comprised of two stories really, with minor offshoots, on the whole it works, but it isn't even. In fact the Effie's origin story, the one that takes up the least amount of literary real estate by far, is also by far is the most interesting. The other half, the young Effie's college years, is too irreverent or something like that to be wholly engaging. Because the storylines are interwoven, there is a very strong meta vibe to the book, that really only pays out in the end. The ending is actually the best, most original part of the story and it showcases where Atkinson's talents really lie, with mysteries, as is evident by the terrific Jackson Brodie series. So I didn't love Emotionally Weird, but I appreciated it and Atkinson is an awesome writer, very clever with a great sense of humor, making for a fairly enjoyable reading regardless of the certain plot aspects and patience it might have required at times.

Note to self: if I have found an author who instantly becomes one of my favorite detective novelists (in her Jackson Brodie series (almost just wrote Jackson Browne, which is just downright stupid), a character that I expected to be a detective in the Robert Parker's Spenser mold but actually is much more of a sympathetic character (exchange Spenser's love of food and women with Brodie's love-from-a-distance relationship with his daughter and a constant ability/failure to get tangled in the lives of the clients that have hired him (although maybe the reason for the lack of food interest just has to do with the Brodie novels being set in the United Kingdom))), then it probably doesn't make great sense to read a novel of hers about the happenings of a group of semi-coherent/scholastic college students. While there were some amusing moments involving misplaced elderly women and a baby, as well as some slapstick around the college professors (although not nearly as amusing a lampooning as the effort turned in by Richard Russo in Straight Man)this review is really just a ringing endorsement for the Brodie books: Case Histories, One Good Turn and When Will there be Good News?

My father used to write for a student's journal in college back in the sixties. Students would send in short stories full of twisty, tormented characters who wore black and smoked a lot, their general air of dejection and resolution that the world was ending soon the most striking thing about them. This book (and also the other Atkinson I picked up, One Good Turn) were populated with such characters - people who didn't give a damn anymore and just wanted help getting through the night.I didn't like the book so much as I was intrigued to see where all her loose ends were going.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Kate Atkinson

Other books in category Picture Books