A Matter of Life and Death or Something by Ben Stephenson

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The novel, sadly, feels “written,” a long exercise in multiple voices and alternative storytelling, which is a shame because the storyline is compelling...
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Short-listed for the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award.

The big-hearted story of a ten-year-old boy, a notebook and the meaning of the universe.

Even though he's only ten years old, Arthur Williams knows lots of things for sure. He knows all about trilobites, and bridge, and that he doesn't want to be Victoria Brown's boyfriend, and that tapping maple trees causes them excruciating pain. He knows his real dad is probably flying a hot-air balloon across the Pacific, or paving a city with moss. And he knows that Simon, the guy who pretends to be his dad, does absolutely nothing interesting. But when Arthur finds a weather-worn notebook in the woods behind his house, all he has are questions. Why was its author, Phil, so sad, and why does it end on page 43? Suddenly, there are other questions too: Why do people abandon people? Why do they abandon themselves?

Arthur embarks on a top-secret investigation to find out who Phil is -- or was. But getting straight answers from grown-ups is impossible, and before long, the only thing he knows for sure is that everything he thought he knew about life is probably wrong and that what he has to do is ten times bigger than what he can do.

Told through a trio of voices: the wildly imaginative and perpetually awkward Arthur, Phil's manic journal and the forest that watches them both, Ben Stephenson's debut novel is a heartbreaking story of love, death and the unspeakable pain of being small.

A Matter of Life and Death Or Something marks the exciting debut of an inventive and gifted storyteller.

 

About Ben Stephenson

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A flourishing member of the Halifax literary scene,
 
Published March 1, 2012 by Douglas & McIntyre. 264 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Matter of Life and Death or Something
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Raymond Beauchemin on Apr 13 2012

The novel, sadly, feels “written,” a long exercise in multiple voices and alternative storytelling, which is a shame...

Read Full Review of A Matter of Life and Death or... | See more reviews from National Post arts

National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Raymond Beauchemin on Apr 13 2012

The novel, sadly, feels “written,” a long exercise in multiple voices and alternative storytelling, which is a shame because the storyline is compelling...

Read Full Review of A Matter of Life and Death or... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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