Thursday, January 06, 2011

Kate Atkinson

We never got comics when I was a child but sometimes read copies belonging to friends, so I dimly remember The Beezer and its strip The Numskulls. I've been rereading Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog and enjoyed this paragraph:
The face of Vince Collier's mother was familiar. Jackson tried to remember why but the tiny people who resentfully ran his memory these days (fetching and carrying folders, checking the contents against index cards, filing them away in boxes that were then placed on endless rows of grey metal Dexion shelving never to be found again) had, in an all too frequent occurrence, mislaid that particular piece of information. This sketchy blueprint for the neurological workings of his brain had been laid down in Jackson's childhood by the Numskulls in his "Beezer" comic and he had never really developed a more sophisticated model.
So that's the explanation, is it?

I do love the way Kate Atkinson writes. And her plots are amazingly complicated - which is why I had to reread the book. A lot of ends are left untied, though, so presumably the next in the series is on the way. Now, if I can just remember what's been happening long enough for her to write it and get it published...


  1. So that is what has been happening in my head! It makes perfect sense! Too many little pieces of paper in too many files in too many file cabinets!

    Thank you Isabelle, for making my day!

    And do keep us posted about any new Kate Atkinson books (I may well have to find her books here).

  2. I just finished that book yesterday too and feel the need to re-read! I love her but at the same time she leaves me frothing with envy. My favourite character in this one would have to be the wee dog :)

  3. Now, this is just one of the many reasons why I love your blog so much. Finally, there's an answer to what's going on upstairs (or not going on, as the case may be.) Thanks for clearing this up!

  4. I never knew about the numbskulls, but what wonderful sense it makes.
    I had to re-read this book, as I missed so much on my first reading - too much hurry, that was the problem, and now I am wondering why it occurred to Jackson to go back to ask the journalist the additional question - have not worked that one out yet, unless it was in the part where Jackson first appears, un-named, early in the book.
    Atkinson does need to be read so carefully. Her irony and social commentary and analysis are impressive.

  5. I have a friend who describes her insides somewhat like a vacuum cleaner with added straps and pulleys - it must drive her GP mad.....

  6. I've read all of her books and particularly like the ones featuring Jackson.

  7. Used to love the Numskulls - brother was the proud recipient of the Beezer every week and would reluctantly allow small sister to read it after a few days. I think my brain department needs a few more staff!

  8. does she know about Dexion shelving?

    Speaking as an archivist, I'm feeling a little resentful myself, reading this. Maybe he needs to provide better metadata about his records, and then his internal archivists will be able to provide better finding aids?

  9. I loved that bit too.
    I got it for christmas and read it last week. Its the type of book that i always desperately want to know the ending, and gobble it up too quickly.
    I turned back and read chunks.
    Sadly, i related all too well to the character who playedTvince Colliers mother...I've got more than a touch of the Tillys.