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Last Things (Signed First Edition)

Jenny Offill

674 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0374184054 / ISBN 13: 9780374184056
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Dan Pope Books (West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

New York: FSG [1999]. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page and dated by her in May 1999, the month of publication. New, in dust jacket. A tight unread copy, only opened for the author to sign. Very fine/very fines. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. Smoke free shop. Shipped in sturdy box with bubble wrap. Her fist book. 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # bpsept05-5

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Last Things (Signed First Edition)

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition....

About this title


A spare, bewitching debut that explores the delicate line separating science from myth and creativity from madness.

Last Things tells the story of Grace Davitt, an eight-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small lakeside town in Vermont. Her mother, Anna, an ornithologist, once saw a monster in this lake, which she believes may be a dinosaur that has somehow escaped extinction. Each morning, she photographs the dark water, hoping it will reappear. To Grace, the monster is more evidence that the world is full of mysterious things most people will never see. From her boy-genius baby-sitter, she has learned about invisible black holes from which no one can escape. From her mother, she has heard about the hyena men of Africa who devour their wives in their sleep. From The Encyclopedia of the Unexplained, she has learned about children raised by wolves and men who suddenly burst into flames.

It is only Grace's father, a dedicated rationalist, who teaches her that the world is, in fact, well ordered and reasonable. For him the only truth is science, and, increasingly, he finds himself shut out by Anna as she draws Grace deeper and deeper into a strange world of myth and obsession.

Touching on extinction, madness, the breakdown of family, and, intriguingly, the way science can encourage contradictory readings of the world, Last Things will surely be hailed as one of the most assured and lyrical first novels of the year.


"My mother knew a lot about spies and sometimes hinted that she had been one once. She knew a way, for example, to make an umbrella shoot a poison dart. Also that the CIA had tried to kill the president of Cuba with an exploding clam. She showed me how to send secret messages by underlining words in a newspaper and dropping it on a bench."

To 8-year-old Grace Davitt, her mother is a puzzling yet wonderful mystery. This is a woman who has seen a sea serpent in the lake, who paints a timeline of the universe (in which "one billion years of real time = 24 days on the cosmic calendar") on the sewing-room wall, and who teaches her daughter a secret language which only they can speak. To the reader, however, it soon becomes clear that Anna Davitt is more than just eccentric. As her obsessions grow, her relationship with Grace's father, Robert, gradually deteriorates until at last the family breaks apart and Grace is left alone with her unstable mother.

Writing an adult novel from a young child's point of view is a tricky business, but Jenny Offill pulls it off without breaking a sweat. God is in the details here, and these are spot-on, from young Grace's fascination with the blind girl who lives in the neighborhood to her speculations about the prior tenant of the uninhabited dog house in the backyard. Grace inhabits that peculiar geography of childhood where all things are reasonable, from the descriptions of gazelle-boys in her Encyclopedia of the Unexplained to her mother's mercurial mood shifts. What makes Anna Davitt's spiral into madness so unnerving is the fact that to her daughter this is business as usual. Last Things has been compared to that other classic of unconventional childhood, Housekeeping; certainly Offill's debut is richly deserving of the company it keeps. --Alix Wilber

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