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Message in a (Klein) Bottle (Short story, 2012)

Russell Hoban's final short story was written specially for the Exhibition Road Show, a festival held in London in July-August 2012.

The story appears in Road Stories, a collection by various writers inspired by London's Exhibition Road, home to many of the city's great museums including the Science Museum and the V&A.

Almost a tribute to London and to Russell's many motifs and obsessions, the story finds ageing art historian Walter meeting the beautiful Ondine, a "museum inhabitant", at the Klein bottle display at the Science Museum. She persuades him to take a surreal trip with her through the labyrinthine tubes of one of the bottles - and then disappears. After further metamorphoses and strange encounters, Walter and Ondine are reunited. Was she ever real? Was he? The final line could be a casual comment of Walter's or it could be Russell Hoban's last and greatest piece of advice: "My message to the world is this: When in doubt, be true to your own craziness."

Message in a (Klein) Bottle was also published in full on the Guardian website at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/19/short-story-message-bottle-russell-hoban

Type of work: 
Short story
Year of first publication: 
Original publisher: 
Exhibition Road Show

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