Poor Things: Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D., Scottish Public Health Officer (A Harvest Book)

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9780156000680: Poor Things: Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D., Scottish Public Health Officer (A Harvest Book)

With its tantalizing reminders of Mary Shelley, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Lewis Carroll, this is an up-todate nineteenth-century novel, informed by a thoroughly twentieth-century sensibility. Set in and around Glasgow and the Mediterranean in the early 1880s, it describes the love lives of two Scottish doctors and a twenty-five-year-old woman who has been created by one of them from human remains. A story of true love and scientific daring, it whirls the reader from the private operating rooms of late-Victorian Glasgow through aristocratic casinos, low-life Alexandria, and a Parisian bordello, reaching an interrupted climax in a Scottish church. It contains many unsanctified weddings, but hardly any perversions, and, as the Spectator put it, "an unexpected final twist doesn't make the novel seem trivial but, on the contrary, gives the vivid melodrama a retrospective gravity. You become aware that this odd book has been a great deal more than entertaining only on finishing it. Then your strongest desire is to start reading it again."

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Review:

The full title of this work, Poor Things: Episodes from the Early Life of Archibald McCandless M.D. Scottish Public Health Officer, reflect a bit of wacky genius at work here. Someone named Alasdair Gray has found a memoir supposedly of a 19th-century public health officer in Glasgow. The truth of the memoir is suspect, nevertheless Gray manages to change it and then lose it. And that's just the backdrop. Inside the memoir is the story of McCandless, an acquaintance named Godwyn Bysshe Baxter who takes a suicide victim, gives her the brain of her unborn child to create a promiscuous and brutal girlfriend. The book, which won the 1992 Guardian Fiction Prize, takes off from there.

About the Author:

Alasdair Gray was born in 1934 in Glasgow, where he still lives. A painter as well as a writer, Mr. Gray describes himself as "an artist in words and pictures." He is the author of Poor Things, Lannark, and 1982 Janine, among other novels and story collections.

Authors of the stories come from all over Scotland and represent a wide mix of gender, age and cultures. Celebrity contributors include Alexander McCall Smith, writer of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series; award winning film and stage actor Brain Cox, Michael Rosen, who was Children's Poet Laureate from 2007 to 2009, and writer Janice Galloway, whose latest book was This is Not About Me.

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Gray, Alasdair
Published by Harvest Books (1994)
ISBN 10: 0156000687 ISBN 13: 9780156000680
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