"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Emotionally Weird

TITLE:  Emotionally Weird
AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson

This is a book of stories: The stories we tell ourselves. The stories we tell each other. The stories we create to entertain. I think this is the last of Atkinson's novels, so far, that I hadn't yet read, and I wonder what I would've thought about it had I read it before her more recent efforts. She has a way with words, especially metaphors and similes, both on full display here. And it feels, to me, like a precursor for her more complex storytelling of Life After Life (which for some reason I didn't review here -- at least, I can't find a review for it here), which explored alternate versions of reality.

The stories here are the ones Effie and her mother, Nora (who isn't her mother), tell while holed up in a creaky old house on a remote island off the coast of Scotland in the 1970s. Effie is telling the story of her recent college exploits, while Nora reluctantly tells of their family history. There are other stories, too, including the mystery novel Effie is writing, as well as excerpts from books being written by other characters, both professors and fellow students. 

Effie's story provides the backbone of the book, and the chance to rewrite reality when Nora doesn't like some detail, or when Effie feels like embellishing something. But at its essence, the truth of Effie's story is only what Effie can provide via her limited perspective, the richer story revealed as Nora's story, and more, are woven into Effie's. Thankfully, the use of multiple fonts makes this sufficiently easy to follow. I hope I don't have a long wait for Atkinson's next novel.

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