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Extended Audio Sample Our Tragic Universe Audiobook, by Scarlett Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,983 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Scarlett Thomas Narrator: Sarah Le Fevre Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2010 ISBN: 9781482979817
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Meg Carpenter is broke. Her novel is years overdue. Her cell phone is out of minutes. And her moody boyfriend’s only contribution to the household is his sour attitude. So she jumps at the chance to review a pseudoscientific book that promises life everlasting. Consulting cosmology and physics, tarot cards, koans (and riddles and jokes), new age theories of everything, narrative theory, Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and knitting patterns, Meg wends her way through Our Tragic Universe, asking this and many other questions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A delight, not least for the quality of Scarlett Thomas’ writing, which is full of a very enjoyable life and energy.”

    Philip Pullman, New York Times bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy

  • “Touching down on storytelling, magic, coincidence, love, and what it might be like to live forever…Meg’s searching soul is remarkably controlled, making her a protagonist you trust and want to follow.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “[A] delightfully whimsical novel…[Thomas] dexterously mixes the serious with the humorous and provides a cast of characters who come across as credible owing to their recognizable foibles and fallibility.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Few writers can mix science, philosophy, and humor as cleverly as Thomas.”

    Library Journal

  • “For readers who enjoy the ideological push and pull of philosophical fiction, Thomas is definitely worth reading.”

    Booklist

  • “[A] freewheeling intellectual journey with no destination…For the omnivorous reader who, like Meg, can’t get enough of the insights and passions and theories and inner lives of others, Thomas’s fifth novel should be an addictive delight.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Thomas brilliantly reminds us that, despite popular representations, many women are actually staying up half the night talking ideas. One feels alone. And then one reads Our Tragic Universe.”

    Jincy Willett, author of Winner of the National Book Award

  • Our Tragic Universe surprised me with where it goes, and in such a terrific way. Scarlett Thomas’s prose is so addictive you can’t help but fall deeper and deeper under her spell. How does she do it? She is a genius.”

    Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Don Hackett | 2/10/2014

    " I'm not sure what I think. The book has the elements of an ordinary novel or story: a likable woman protagonist; a boyfriend she might breakup with; a best friend who is having an affair; an older man who the protagonist might want to have an affair with; a career she is dissatisfied with; and money problems. Her career is writing, and after an award for a new writer, she is stalled writing anonymous young adult novels and the occasional science fiction novel. When she edits her work on her Serious novel, it keeps getting smaller--currently down to 43 words. She talks about writing, tells jokes to her friends, does not care tat sex with her boyfriend has always been infrequent, and she walks her dog. She has an estranged friend who is said to be developing a theory of the anti-story and this novel seems to be an example of an anti-story, and maybe a bit of a shaggy-dog-story. Events happen, lives change (or maybe they don't), clues are dropped (and then contravened), but they don't add up to a story as I expected it. In being inconclusive the book is like life as we (I) know it, and that may be the point of this novel. I have the urge to reread this book, in part to see how much of the talk about stories is embodies in this novel, and this might result in my upgrading my evaluation. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Patrick koozy | 1/17/2014

    " No where near as good as The End of Mr Y. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sue Hyams | 1/15/2014

    " I bought this book for the cover. How could I not? Black, gold, wolf. It's an odd book and I'm not sure how to describe it, nor am I sure what I feel about it. There's not really a story, it just follows a period of time in Meg's life, and we live her life pretty much as she does, detail by detail. So, while it is, I suppose, a nothingy sort of book, it's also compelling, and I was drawn towards Meg in many ways. I found the end rather disappointing but when there's no story as such, the end must be pretty hard to write. I'm glad I read it, and I'm sure it will live with me for some time to come. A thoughtful book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim Rowe | 1/8/2014

    " Excellent. Great to read such an excellent novel that is set in current-day England. A big plus for me was that it referenced many subjects I am interested in such as: Metaphysics, Homeopathy, Magic etc. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Daryle | 12/31/2013

    " A little too much philosophy for me. I can't even really tell you what the story was about. There were some bits of plot that I enjoyed but overall this was just ok for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Allison | 12/26/2013

    " The only reason I am even giving 2 stars is because this book was well written and I enjoyed it to that extent. The story (if you can even call it a 'story', because really it was just a lot of random ideas thrown into nothing) - did nothing for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 11/22/2013

    " Very cerebral/philosophical. Maybe a little too much so for me, at least this week. Entertaining all the same, though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Noa | 11/22/2013

    " Frustrating. Filled with endless amount of name dropping and lacks plot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 11/19/2013

    " A reread, ok but not as good as her other books "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ivory | 1/31/2013

    " Thomas has a knack for whipping a little magic into reality without attaining the overused quality that occupies books labelled "magical realism." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew Oakes | 11/14/2012

    " I enjoyed this the further I got through it. At first I wasn't really sure of the point of it and it teetered on the edge of literary criticism which I hate. Thankfully it moved away from that and I enjoyed it a lot more in the second half. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 11/12/2012

    " I might not have liked where she went with it. Enjoyed the first half or so immensely. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessie | 7/14/2012

    " Not nearly as good as the End of Mr Y ... still good, still Scarlet-style and still enjoyable and hughly-readable. But just not Mr Y. Sorry x "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 4/12/2012

    " rather wanted it to be a bit less of a story, considering, but pleasant none the less "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ã…ke | 8/1/2011

    " Pretty good book. Interesting characters and real emotions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 5/11/2011

    " I don't have words of my own to express what I thought, but as Douglas Coupland's blurb on the back cover asserts: "Thomas' prose is so addictive you can't help but fall deeper and deeper under her spell."

    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 5/10/2011

    " A departure for me, but I mostly really enjoyed this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 5/10/2011

    " Very interesting book that pulls together mysticism, science, magic and the supernatural, all grounded in the mundanity of a starving British author trying to make ends meet and decide what to do with her passionless relationship. Doesn't take itself seriously - an enjoyable read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sinead | 4/23/2011

    " This book was pleasant in an empty way. It was an easy read and compulsive, but ultimately nothing happened. The plot was wafer thin, held together by long passages of scientific babble that had me glazing over. I found the main character too self-absorbed but I did like her dog, Bess. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hazel | 4/9/2011

    " I found this book much easier to follow than Popco. Perhaps because it was a subject I liked more, or could relate to more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leighana | 4/5/2011

    " A story-less story about love, multiple universes and the placebo effect. Absolutely loved it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Scotchneat | 4/1/2011

    " I was really thinking I'd enjoy this book. Intellectualism, nutter theories, literary theory, erudition. But there were a lot of people talking just to sound smart.

    Plus a little too much of the new age maybe meant to be ironic, but really just annoying. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenfasy | 3/29/2011

    " spectacularly uninteresting. i cannot think of a book i enjoyed less in the past year. it had so much promise in the description and reviews but failed to live up to them at all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marco Latini | 3/21/2011

    " Scarlet Thomas è sempre una sorpresa in questo libro alcune riflessioni sono più alla portata di tutti. Sto riflettendo rispetto a quanto ha detto sullo scrivere un saggio rispetto allo scrivere un romanzo sullo stesso tema.

    "

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About the Author
Author Scarlett Thomas

Scarlett Thomas is the author of several books, including The End of Mr. Y and PopCo. She writes for the Independent on Sunday and other magazines and is a recipient of the Elle Style Award. She lives and teaches in Canterbury, England.

About the Narrator

Sarah Le Fevre lives in London, where she trained at the Poor School and is a practicing barrister. She divides her working life between these professions, indulges her passions for the Arsenal football club and Bikram yoga, and occasionally escapes for clean air and green fields to the West Country.