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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Going Out

Scarlett Thomas

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To purchase Going Out

Title: Going Out
Author: Scarlett Thomas
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002
Length: 356 pages
Availability: Going Out - US
Going Out - UK
Going Out - Canada
Le fabuleux voyage du jeune homme [...] - France
Il giro più pazzo del mondo - Italia

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Our Assessment:

B : genial, but unremarkable

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 19/4/2003 Alfred Hickling
Independent on Sunday . 13/4/2003 Murrough O'Brien
The New Yorker . 12/7/2004 .
The Village Voice . 18/5/2004 Paul LaFarge
The Washington Post . 8/6/2004 Chris Lehmann

  Review Consensus:

  Pretty lukewarm

  From the Reviews:
  • "The closing chapter makes it clear that this is meant to be read as a remake of The Wizard of Oz. But I prefer to take the van to be a metaphor for New Puritanism itself -- a clapped-out literary marketing exercise which is unlikely to make it through its next MOT." - Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

  • "(W)e get lots of intensity but little passion. Thomas's style is clear, controlled but somehow parched: dewy lyricism is not her metier. Still, in a chronicle of the urban desert, how many oases should we expect to find ?" - Murrough O'Brien, Independent on Sunday

  • "The novel succeeds as a quirky, affectionate satire of brand-saturated Britain, but its antic plot veers toward the cutesy, and the prose, deliberately -- indeed, puritanically -- banal, never lets the characters burst into Technicolor." - The New Yorker

  • "Going Out is too sunny and in the end too Baum-ish a novel to answer these questions in any but the way you think they will be answered. It makes you wish that Thomas had gone farther, and given her fairy tale more of the old European darkness." - Paul LaFarge, The Village Voice

  • "Thomas manages to keep the proceedings on a surprisingly even course through a number of less-than-plausible twists and switchbacks. She succeeds mainly because of her close attention to character and dialogue, all too scarce commodities in the spare minimalist world of so much contemporary fiction." - Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Going Out is the story of several twenty-somethings who are having trouble getting on with their lives -- or rather, really getting started with them.
       Luke seems to be literally allergic to everything, including the sun, and he has been a prisoner in his mother's house for practically his entire life. He's getting frustrated with his situation -- and worried that he'll never see what normal life is like. As is, his sense of reality is warped by TV (and, to a lesser extent, by his connexion to the Internet), leaving him with expectations -- such as neatly tied together endings and a predictability to many situations -- that just aren't true to life.
       One of Luke's close friends is Julie, who grew up next door. A maths whiz, she blew her great chance when she failed all her A-levels on purpose, insuring she wouldn't be able to go to university. For years now she's been a waitress, and claims to be happy with her life; in fact, of course, she's terrified of moving on in any way.
       Thomas describes their lives, and those in their orbit, and their simple daily interactions, practically a club of people in a massive rut. About the biggest excitement is that there's been a good deal of flooding in the area -- closing down the restaurant for a while, for example. And there's also a new neighbour who has won the lottery, after growing up in very humble circumstances.
       Luke has gotten into contact with a faith healer in Wales, Ai Wei Zhe, and seems to believe this Wei might be able to help him. So they decide to go on a road trip to Wales, complete with Luke in a protective suit they put together for him. And, of course, they learn their lessons on the way, and there.
       Thomas captures the twenty-somethings' lives fairly well; Luke's circumstances seem a bit unlikely, as does Julie's willingness to abandon a path she is so obviously destined for, but given these premises she paints plausible characters and scenes. The book meanders forward easily and pleasantly enough, and -- until she ties it all together much too neatly in the end -- it's an entertaining novel of trying to find oneself, and one's role in life.
       Decent entertainment, and a smooth read, but relatively unremarkable.

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Going Out: Reviews: Scarlett Thomas: Other books by Scarlett Thomas under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       English author Scarlett Thomas was born in 1972.

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© 2008-2022 the complete review

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