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The Universe in Miniature in Miniature
by Patrick Somerville


Overview -
In this genre-busting book from award-winning novelist Patrick Somerville characters, stories, and stray thoughts revolve around the "The Machine of Understanding Other People," the story of a Chicago man who is bequeathed a supernatural helmet that allows him to experience the inner worlds of those around him.
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More About The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville
 
 
 
Overview

In this genre-busting book from award-winning novelist Patrick Somerville characters, stories, and stray thoughts revolve around the "The Machine of Understanding Other People," the story of a Chicago man who is bequeathed a supernatural helmet that allows him to experience the inner worlds of those around him. Through his lonely lens we peer into the mind of an art student grappling with ennui, ethics and empathy as she comes to terms with her own beliefs in a godless world. We telescope out to the story of idiot extraterrestrials struggling to pilot a complicated spaceship. We follow a retired mercenary as he tries to save his marriage and questions his life abroad. Mind-bending and cracklingly new, Somerville's broadly appealing and uniquely imaginative constructions probe the outer reaches of sympathy, death, and love in a world seen from the inside out.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780982580813
  • ISBN-10: 0982580819
  • Publisher: Featherproof Books
  • Publish Date: November 2010
  • Page Count: 307
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-01-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

In "The Machine of Understanding Other People," the novella that concludes this marvelous set of loosely connected stories, the main character is bequeathed a helmet that enables him entry into the minds of others. Perhaps Somerville (The Cradle) had access to such a device as he crafted his wide-ranging yet wonderfully authentic narrators. Several stories offer intimate access into seemingly real life—a teenager nurses a crush on a teacher as her parents separate, a man recalls a friendly relationship with long-ago proprietors of his corner store—but Somerville's originality shines most when palpably human characters navigate mind-bending scenarios. Students at the School of Surreal Thought and Design are consumed by their vaguely artistic projects but have no instructors, classes, or campus; a new couple faces the aftermath of the end of Earth's orbit yet continue their mundane squabbles ("I was mad and she said, ‘The world ended,' and I said, ‘That's not the point.'"). These densely layered tales invite multiple readings, but even a glance uncovers profound human connection beneath Somerville's often whimsical surface. (Dec.)

 
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