The University of Wisconsin Press

Ficiton / Gay & Lesbian Interest


The End of the World Book
A Novel
Alistair McCartney

One of 5 finalists for the 2009 PEN USA Literary Awards

Finalist, Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction,
The Publishing Triangle

"The End of the World Book is in turn informative, playful, erotic, imaginary, witty, perverse, charming, autobiographical, and full of wonders; the letter K, for example, begins with Kafka and ends with Freddie Krueger. If the world is ending soon, I recommend you read it while there’s still time."—Jim Krusoe, author of Iceland and Blood Lake

This is no ordinary novel. An encyclopedia of memory —from A to Z—The End of the World Book deftly intertwines fiction, memoir, and cultural history, reimagining the story of the world and one man’s life as they both hurtle toward a frightening future. Alistair McCartney’s alphabetical guide to the apocalypse layers images like a prose poem, building from Aristotle to da Vinci, hip-hop to lederhosen, plagues to zippers, while barreling from antiquity to the present.

In this profound book about mortality, McCartney composes an irreverent archive of philosophical obsessions and homoerotic fixations, demonstrating the difficulty of separating what is real from what is imagined.

“Beguiling, comical, earnest, and wise beyond its author’s years. Crossing sporadic bursts of linear narrative with a detailed taxonomy of altercation, McCartney has engineered a compelling compendium of integrated distractions, somewhat in the manner of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. Read it from A to Z. He knows who you are: you will be quizzed.”—James McCourt, author of Queer Street

“If I’ve read a more deeply impressive, beautiful, sweeping, mindful, and innovative first novel than Alistair McCartney’s The End of the World Book, I have no memory of it. McCartney is a writer of peerless, brilliant originality and pure, giant talent.” —Dennis Cooper, author of The Sluts and God Jr.

The Letter M:
The most significant art form of the decade known as the 1970s was undoubtedly macramé, that coarse lacework produced by weaving cords into a pattern. However, some contest this and argue that, on the contrary, mime was the greatest cultural achievement of the decade: mime, that subtle art form in which people with white pancake makeup on their faces, with black markings on their lips and around their eyes, dressed in overalls and horizontally striped T-shirts, brilliantly expressed something, anything, by virtue of movement and facial expression alone, that is to say, mutely, as if their tongues had been cut out of their heads. Although I admire mime . . . I still believe macramé is the higher and purer art form.

In the late 1970s, at the height of macramé’s popularity . . . while other children made charming macramé potholders for their mothers, and macramé owls that would serve as tasteful wall hangings, for my mother, using off-white wool, I made a realistic macramé psyche. —excerpt from The End of the World Book.

This is a photo of author Alistair McCartneyAlistair McCartney teaches creative writing at Antioch University in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Fence, Bloom, James White Review, and other literary journals as well as in a number of fiction and creative nonfiction anthologies, including Wonderlands: Good Gay Travel Writing, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and Between Men. Born in Australia, he lives in Los Angeles with his partner, Tim Miller. This is his first novel.

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Cover of book has multiple images of colorful people.

April 2008
LC: 2007039995 PS
248 pp.    6 x 9

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Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-22630-5
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