A beautiful New Face of Fiction debut from a stunningly gifted young novelist about what it means to be a daughter, a patient, a lover and a human being who can carry on after a massive loss.
What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.
Grace O'Connell holds an MFA in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, Quill & Quire and EYE Weekly. She has taught creative writing at George Brown College and now works as a freelance writer and editor in Toronto.
WINNER 2014 – Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award
“A poignant exploration of love, grief and lucidity.” —CBC Books
“An accomplished, decidedly quirky debut novel.” —Toronto Star
“Seduces immediately by force of storytelling. . . . O’Connell is spot-on about the isolating nature of grief. . . . The story’s real weight, its heart’s heft, comes with a closing sleight-of hand. In retrospect, it connects with a wallop.” —The Globe and Mail
“A poignant, affecting first novel. . . . The greatest strength of Magnified World lies . . . in moments of quiet yet piercing insight into the pain of losing a loved one.” —Toronto Star
“[O’Connell] possesses a magical, almost fanciful, and rich imagination.” —Canada.com
“Powerful and haunting, Magnified World exists in a realm of its own. I greatly anticipate the future career of Grace O’Connell.” —Indigo Fiction Blog
“A very excellent book.” —This Magazine
“There is magic in Magnified World.” —January Magazine
“Part of Random House’s well-curated New Face of Fiction series. . . . O’Connell deserves marks for a bold approach to her subject—grieving is indeed a surreal, nonlinear process impossible to prepare for.” —National Post
“She’s a beautiful writer. Line by line, her prose is sensate and evocative, toying with words and images and reframing them in wonderfully counterintuitive, surprising ways.” —The Walrus
“O’Connell has a deliriously good style, swooping through layers of consciousness and comprehension with elegance and even a bit of humour. The painful experience of going on with one’s life after a loved one commits suicide is examined by stripping bare multiple layers of perception to try to find stability in an unstable emotional world. “ —Quill & Quire
“A haunting story about love and fragility, the permeable line between truth and the imagination, absence and longing, grieving and coming through. Here is a drenching swim in the strongest currents of feeling, the link between mothers and daughters, fathers, lovers and the very fine line between what we know to be real, and what we cannot ever know for certain.” —Lisa Moore, author of February
“Magnified World is a powerful debut that fearlessly tackles the fears and joys of the heart. There is poetry on the path that lies beyond loss, and Grace O’Connell has found it.” —Ami McKay, author of The Virgin Cure and The Birth House
“In its intimate mysteries and wry observation, O’Connell’s Magnified World offers something quite rare: a view of grief that isn’t sad, but touching, whimsical and wise.” —Trevor Cole, author of The Fearsome Particles
“Grace O’Connell’s debut novel is somehow seductive, subtle and stunning all at the same time. She takes the world you know in hand, and tilts it slightly, a bit more, then even more…until everything is something else, and breathtaking. Magnified World is not just big; it is deeper, scarier, more there than the real thing. And although it’s a daunting place to be, O’Connell’s writing is such that you’d follow her anywhere. You’ll want to live inside this language, wrap yourself up in it; she really is that good.” —Shaughnessy Bishop Stall, author of Ghosted
“Charm. It’s a rare quality that is in abundant evidence in Grace O’Connell’s debut. A whole emotional world—and an intimate take on the city—are drawn by a distinctive authorial voice that’s already found itself.” —Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle and The Guardians
“Grace O’Connell’s debut, Magnified World, bristles with energy. When Maggie’s mother drowns herself in the river, Maggie is left behind, struggling to keep herself afloat in the aftermath. Magnified World is about the extraordinary lengths to which Maggie will go to keep herself from being pulled under by the legacy of family secrets and the ripples of mental illness. A smart, dark, funny, puzzle box of a book that is as much about hope as it is about grief and the grip of a mother on her daughter.” —Alexi Zentner, author of Touch
“O’Connell delves into the murky waters of memory, identity and mental illness with heartbreaking clarity and wisdom. Magnified World is a gem of a book.” —Brian Francis, author of Natural Order
“Magnified World brims with life and magic. In the face of suicide, grief, blackouts and men who may or may not be real, Grace O’Connell’s wonderful novel celebrates the inventiveness that allows us not only to survive but daringly reinvent ourselves. O’Connell is a deft and delightful storyteller whose prose has a natural clarity and buoyancy. Her heroine, Maggie, may fear she’s going a little mad but O’Connell’s belief in the power of stories to save us shines through at every turn.” —Catherine Bush, author of The Rules of Engagement and Claire’s Head
“O’Connell writes with assurance and a rare vitality. At once funny and deeply disturbing, Magnified World will remain with the reader long after the book is closed.” —Rabindranath Maharaj, author of The Amazing Absorbing Boy