To date I have steered clear of Kate Atkinson for whatever irrational reason – a big mistake, I can assure you: this was the rare case of a book which I didn’t want to finish. It has wit and a kind of crazy intelligence; a sense of humour that I mostly get, and a range of literary and philosophical allusions that are enough to satisfy my vanity and make me feel that I am not just a washed up literature student.
Emotionally Weird is set in the insalubrious confines of Dundee University, and more specifically, for much of the novel, in the even more unhealthy environment of Bob’s flat, where Star Wars and Dr Who rule. A cast of strange and unusual characters, is paraded across the pages of the novel, in a series of vivid and surreal images, much to the disappointment of the second narrator – Nora – she likes a book with plot: Effie goes for the post- modern, and to a limited extent magic realism, much to my taste.
Atkinson evokes a long forgotten world of student protests and parties, of senile professors and women’s liberation, of random yellow dogs, of Ford Cortinas and fish and chips. I Started Early, Took the Dog is on the shelves upstairs, my wife assures me. If so, that’s me kept quiet for the next few days!