Born in Illinois, Lucy Ellmann was dragged to England as a teenager. Her first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A Lament, Dot in the Universe and Doctors & Nurses. She now lives in Edinburgh.
Bach, sculpture, plastic surgery, public speaking and a New York love story like no other - this is Lucy Ellmann's most extraordinary work of art to date It's Christmas Eve in Manhattan. Harrison Hanafan, noted plastic surgeon, falls on his ass. 'Ya can't sit there all day, buddy, looking up people's skirts!' chides a weird gal in a coat like a duvet. She then kindly conjures the miracle of a taxi. While recuperating with Franz Schubert, Bette Davis, and a foundling cat, Harrison adds items to his life's work, a List of Melancholy Things (puppetry, shrimp-eating contests, Walmart...) before going back to rhinoplasties, liposuction, and the peccadilloes of his obnoxious colleagues. Then Harrison collides once more with the strangely helpful woman, Mimi, who bursts into his life with all her curves and chaos. They soon fall emphatically in love. And, as their love-making reaches a whole new kind of climax, the sweet smell of revolution is in the air.
Eloise is too old to be called an orphan but insists she is bereft. With a cello, a car, some cats and a supply of Chicken Balti, she has devised for herself a half-alive hermitude. From her sinister country cottage she dispatches plaintive missives to the purveyors of evaporated milk and loo-roll holders. No one is too high, too powerful, to escape the fury of her attack. George is England's only poet of ice hockey (not a full-time job). Pining for inspiration, he plays a lot of pinball and is chased around by his students. Indeed, all through the land people languish in a rage of bewilderment, undone by neighbours, the news and the heartless human tendancy to reduce the world to lists. Fierce, funny and strange (touching on the unseen links between donkeys, fruit-labelling and ferry disasters) Lucy Ellmann's third novel reveals the stubborn nature of absurdity. Man or Mango? wanders through the darkest areas of human behaviour, and our century's history, asking how to live - and how to love.
It's Christmas Eve in Manhattan. Harrison Hanafan, noted plastic surgeon, falls on his ass. So far, so good. `Ya can't sit there all day, buddy, looking up people's skirts!' chides a weird gal in a coat like a duvet - Mimi! She kindly conjures for him the miracle of a taxi. Recuperating in his apartment with Schubert, Bette Davis, and a foundling cat, Harrison adds items to his life's work, a List of Melancholy Things (Walmart, puppetry, Velcro, whale eyes, shrimp-eating contests...). But when he receives a dreaded invitation to address his old school, Mimi reappears, with all her curves and chaos. She and Harrison fall emphatically in love. And, as their love-making reaches a whole new kind of climax, the sweet smell of revolution is in the air.
Suzy Schwarz has learnt one or two things about life: other people know how you should live better than you do; sisters (especially Fran) can destroy your sanity and self-esteem; lust calls for careful timing because it rarely coincides with that of your partner; and most heartbreaking of all, parents die on you, leaving you grieving. The only thing that provides constant solace when times are bad (and they usually are) is food.
Bloomsbury Publishing is given over to the life of the mind - the entire building is adorned, insulated and overwhelmed by books. Yet the snacking habits of the Editorial Department have given rise to a problematic situation - the place has been invaded by mice! Into this mousey coup d'etat steps Tom, a marvellous heathen of a ginger farm cat who's never seen a book in his life. His career begins promisingly, but his effectiveness soon comes into question. Tom settles so well into the Bloomsbury routine that he sleeps soundly in his armchair at night while the mice run riot upstairs. Tom, it seems, is not cut out for mousing. He is an intellectual, he is Tom the Obscure, and destined for greater things...
The tranquillity of a rural backwater - SHATTERED! The ancient arts of medicine - EXPOSED! Her darling cleft-chinned doctor - FORCED TO FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE! It was a time of wiping. A time of bandaging. Of patients and their incessant needs. In a world where nurses never wash their hands, and doctors are the lowest of the low, one enormous nurse stands up for LOVE - a nurse that will make you fart with fear...
Dot used to think she was perfect, with her pointy nose, pink skin and blonde hair. But now she lives on Abalone Avenue with a husband who chases women and swordfish. And she has a rather icky Fatal Flaw. And the universe doesn't give a damn! So DOT decides to End It All. Will death be fast? Slow? Embarrasing? But despite her valiant suicide by tea cosy followed by a jaunt to the morgue, Dot wakes up.
In an eminent London art institute - the Catafalque - Our Heroine Isabel (she of the obsessional habits, perpetual virginity and peculiar belly button) sit in wistful contemplation of Chardin's brushstrokes and the virile red socks of passing lecturers. Isabel's wholly imaginary love life (based on the romantic notions of authoress Babs Cartwheel) bears little resemblance to that of her flatmate Pol, who prefers to grip reality by the balls. Enter Robert, victim of an American childhood, kitsch memorabilia, academic rivalry, Pol's belly-dancing and Isabel's mute adoration. Can he be perverse enough not to despair?