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Not the End of the World    by Kate Atkinson order for
Not the End of the World
by Kate Atkinson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

In this unusual collection of twelve short stories, Kate Atkinson takes the bizarre and ties it together using mythology as a theme.

The first story, Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping, starts benignly with the main characters discussing what Charlene should purchase for her mother's birthday present. As they are walking down the street, 'somewhere in the distance a bomb exploded softly.' And so the twists begin. By the end, the reader is entranced to find out what all of these tales have in common, and how they all fit together.

Though not every story is as fascinating as the first, they did keep my attention. I think it was the off-the-wall unpredictability of what happened that drew me in and made me want to analyze and read more. I was enthralled by small details that tie each tale to the next: a script for a television show written by a man in one story turns into a television show that a character in another story can't stand. I found myself flipping back to find the connections.

I am not a big fan of short story anthologies, but this one is very reader friendly, with appeal on multiple levels. It's entertaining as a surface read, but also contains a great deal of mythological symbolism at a deeper layer. If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, yet accessible and engaging, Not the End of the World is an excellent choice.

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