The End of the World Book by Alistair McCartney

O

Organ-grinders

The art of organ-grinding is fast disappearing, almost as quickly as we are. There used to be an organ-grinder and his little monkey on every street corner, distracting us from our troubles. Now we have nothing to distract us and we must pay attention to each trouble, individually. They say that when the world ends, almost no one will be spared. God will destroy virtually all of his inventory. No one will be left except for one lone organ-grinder, cranking the handle of his hand organ; its tinny, jerky music will issue forth into the newly vacant air. Though, of course, no one will be there to listen. And no one will be there to give a little money to the organ-grinder’s little monkey, in its red Chinese silk coat and its red fez with the black and gold tassel, whose withered little hand will be extended out, waiting patiently.

From The End of the World Book: A Novel by Alistair McCartney
University of Wisconsin Press, April 2008

Alistair McCartney is the author of The End of the World Book: a Novel (University of Wisconsin Press, April, 08). The End of the World Book is both a novel and an encyclopedia (A to Z) of memories, obsessions and philosophical fixations, working in and building upon the same metafictional terrain as Roberto Bolano and W.G. Sebald. Praising this novel, Dennis Cooper, author of Frisk, wrote, “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.” Publishers Weekly described it as “. . . a surreal and self-referential encyclopedia for the 21st century… fans of alternative literature and Borges may discover a kindred spirit.” And The Los Angeles Times characterized it as “…a giddy literary jape…’The End of the World Book’ …is an interrogation of literature — how we think about writing, what we choose to write about and why.” The book was recently chosen to be featured on Critical Mass, the blog for the National Book Critics circle.

Currently at work on his next novel The Death Book: A Comedy, other writings of his have appeared in Fence, Bloom, James White Review, and numerous literary journals, as well as in a number of fiction and creative nonfiction anthologies, including Wonderlands (University of Wisconsin Press) and Between Men (Carroll and Graf.) McCartney has taught in the Master of Arts Program at Prescott College, Arizona and has taught creative writing and literature in the BA Program at Antioch University Los Angeles and Antioch Santa Barbara since 2002. Originally from Australia, since 1997 he has been based in Los Angeles.