Scarlett Thomas's The End of Mr. Y
is one of the books I absolutely fell in love with, on nearly every level, but it was the only book of hers I could get my hands on for years. So when I saw that they'd republished Going Out
(and Our Tragic Universe
, which I'll be reading next), you can imagine my intense delight.
As the synposis says, this is the story of Luke, who's deathly allergic to everything, and Julie, who's terrified of everything. They've cocooned themselves in their little lives physically and psychologically, until one day they hear about a man who could heal Luke's odd illness. With a few oddball friends of their own, they all go on a journey through the flooded countryside and learn a few key truths about themselves.
So. Was the delight justified? I'm going to have to answer "just somewhat." This book lacks the intellectual romanticism of Mr. Y
, though it does show towards the end in Julie's fascination with numbers and the discussion she has with Wei. A lot of the book is the characters just messing around and being miserable in their lives, which, in a way, mirror the way Luke himself lives -- defined by their boundaries and never going out of their comfort zones because it's scary out there (except maybe for Charlotte).
Narratively speaking, there's not a lot of exciting things going on in this book, but there's a lot to relate to. Julie's fear of success, the underlying meaning of her satisfaction with a small and quiet life, Luke's belief in the structures of fiction and what real life really means -- everything about this book says something to me at this point in my life. I just need to figure out what it is.