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The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie
  

The Portable Veblen

Literary Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   Books of the Year 2016   Family Drama   Reading Groups   eBook Favourites   Relationship Stories   
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One of our Books of the Year 2016.

Whimsical yet sharp and perceptive, ‘The Portable Veblen’ is an absolute treat of a read. Veblen is eccentrically wonderful, she lives in California, is followed by a squirrel and has a fiancé (yes the order of the squirrel and fiancé is deliberate). Veblen is influenced by Thorstein Veblen, an American sociologist and economist, her fiancé Paul is apparently influenced by achievement and success, and is determined to rid Veblen’s attic of its noisy invader. Occasional photos, letters and little extras crop up through the book, making the journey from beginning to end feel even more intense and physically real. At times I felt as though I was floating directly above Veblen, connected yet apart, and able to pick up on the smallest but most significant details. Elizabeth McKenzie writes with a beautifully considered yet free hand, with my feelings ranging from amused to curious, frustrated to sympathetic, and I also fell in love with a squirrel. This is a book to keep near at hand, a book to love and to cherish, to savour and to treasure. ~ Liz Robinson

Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016.

Synopsis

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016 A laugh-out-loud love story with big ideas - and squirrels Can squirrels speak? Do snails scream? Will a young couple, newly engaged, make it to their wedding day? Will their dysfunctional families ruin everything? Will they be undone by the advances of a very sexy, very unscrupulous heiress to a pharmaceuticals corporation? Is getting married even a remotely reasonable idea in the twenty-first century? And what in the world is a 'Veblen' anyway?

Reviews

'Man oh man, do I love this book! Audacious, imaginative and totally wonderful'
Karen Joy Fowler

'I can't remember a book I enjoyed more'
Nina Stibbe

'Smart, funny, charming and profound. Elizabeth McKenzie is clearly some sort of genius'
Paul Murray

'The squirreliest novel I ever read. I enjoyed it completely'
Ursula K. Le Guin

'Raw and weird and hilarious ... very entertaining'
Scarlett Thomas, Guardian

'Ambitious, spirited, funny, daring'
Financial Times

'A touching, wildly funny and peculiarly elegant look at the travails of love of all kinds'
Sunday Express

'Utterly charming. A true joy of a book'
Irish Examiner

'Full of life and humour and compassion'
Times Literary Supplement

'Darkly funny, irrepressibly quirky and very, very hard to put down'
Sam Baker, The Pool

'Quirky and smart. If you loved Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, you'll love this'
Glamour

'Wildly brilliant. Razor-sharp, intimate, hilarious and profound. Every page is a delight'
Emma Jane Unsworth

'Terrifically entertaining ... hard to resist'
Daily Mail

'Offbeat, thoughtful, mischievous ... McKenzie [has] a pin-sharp eye for the tragic-comic, and for dialogue'
Herald (Scotland)

'A novel of festive originality'
The New York Times

'Unforgettable. A wild ride that you will not want to miss'
San Francisco Chronicle

'If The Portable Veblen has a flaw, it is that its caricatures are so on the nose as to make the reader hope to flee the human race'
Boston Globe

'Oddball characters and plot turns abound, including talking squirrels and bureaucratic ironies worthy of Catch-22. But a sober question occupies its core: Do our parents' best intentions do us harm?
Minneapolis Star Tribune

'Accurately and funnily capture[s] the complexities of modern families ... The Corrections meets The Wallcreeper'
Huffington Post

About the Author

Elizabeth McKenzie

Elizabeth McKenzie's work has appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Author photo © Linda Ozaki

Below is a Q&A with this author.

What I’m reading: Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban
What I’m listening to: The Dead Sailor Girls, Neil Finn
What I’m watching: The Americans
Favourite word(s): homunculus + pseudo
Favourite song: And Your Bird Can Sing
Your hero – literary or otherwise: Roger Federer
The book you wish you’d written/The book that everyone should read: The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
Writing ritual: lots of coffee, straight backed wooden chair, back to the window, children at school
Best advice ever received: Look for what’s already here.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Fewer heartless jerks.
Think of something beautiful – could we ask you to describe what you see? Hanami, the cherry blossom viewing festivals in Japan.
What’s the most memorable sentence you’ve ever read? One is from the Steegmuller translation of Madame Bovary: “Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing? There have been serious secret yearnings for careers in private investigation, airline pilotry, and donkey ranching.
Who would play your main character in a film adaptation of your book: Honeysuckle Weeks? Ellen Page?
Where best do you write? Your study, your kitchen counter, Starbucks? A small cluttered room at the top of the stairs.

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Book Info

Publication date

26th January 2017

Author

Elizabeth McKenzie

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Publisher

Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Format

Paperback
448 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Books of the Year 2016
Family Drama
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites
Relationship Stories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780008160395

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