I picked up my copy of Cat’s Eye back in December of 2011 and I’ve waited WAY too long to read it. I’ve been looking at my bookshelves thinking I needed to read more of those books and so I went back to my list and looked at the oldest on there and this was one of them.
I’m glad I read this because every time I read a another Margaret Atwood novel I ask myself why in the hell I waited so long between novels. I’m doubly glad I read this as it’s kept my belief that the short and long list booker prizes are more approachable than the winners. I haven’t read the 1989 winner yet, it’s Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, and it could break that streak with how much of an impact Never Let Me Go left on me.
I think what has always drawn me to Atwood are her strong female characters, her awesome speculative fiction, and what seems like her fascination with age and aging. I thought it was weird at first, but then I realized that some of these novels I’m reading from the late 80s were when Atwood was already in her late-40s/early-50s. So it made a lot more sense when I realized that. Continue reading →
I didn’t quite get this one read before it’s release, but considering how busy I’ve been, having it read and posted within a week of its release, September 29, is pretty impressive! Any time there is a new Atwood, I get excited. Margaret Atwood is the Queen of Speculative Fiction, among other things. So when I had the opportunity to request a copy and the publisher, Nan A. Talese granted it*, I was over the moon.
I still have a few older Atwood’s on my shelf to read, but the last I read was Stone Mattress and I really liked where she was going. This being said, I’ve seen quite a few reviews recently of The Heart Goes Last where I’ve wanted to slap the reviewers and say WHAT ABOUT THE BOOK? Mostly people were complaining they had bought the first few chapters on a website and then had to buy the whole book to find out what happened (Hello, single song releases?! Do we not remember the “old days” of the 1990s – early 2000s?) As this doesn’t affect me and most readers, I don’t see why it’s important so don’t let that impact your judgement!
Atwood is an incredible writer and story teller and there’s really not much more that needs to be said, so when I saw her newest collection of short stories I knew I had to request it! I received a copy from the publisher, in return for my honest opinion:
That would be a little cruel, to leave it just at that even though it would still describe it perfectly. Below, you’ll find a one-to-two sentence review of each of the nine tales and a single quote from each.
On a different note, if you haven’t heard Margaret Atwood is the first author of the future library! This is a project where authors are asked to write a work and it won’t be read for 100 years. This makes me both incredibly happy, as she writes such fantastic speculative/near future fiction, but also sad that I won’t be able to read it! It’s a fascinating project and I could go into it in detail, but really you should just read about it at The Guardian.
I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.
I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
What a great book! I’m not sure where or why I decided I needed to read it but I’m glad I did. I think it was on one of the blogs I follow or one of the podcasts I listen to (I think it might’ve been Pop Culture Happy Hour, but I’m not positive), but either way I’m glad I read it.
One reason I thoroughly enjoyed this book is that it reminded me a lot of Perry Moore’s Hero. The heroes in both of these novels are not your standard superheroes, they have unique talents and abilities. What this novel did differently than Hero was to explain why the most mundane tasks are actually superhero worthy. Kaufman talks about choosing a superhero name and speaks to the mundane portion of superheroes regardless of their talents and reminds us that they are (mostly) all human.
“The final stage of finding your superhero name is accepting how little difference it really makes. Okay, there’s this one thing you can do, a thing you can do like no other person on the planet. That makes you special, but being special really doesn’t mean anything. You still have to get dressed in the morning. Your shoelaces still break. Your lover will still leave you if you don’t treat her right.” (77-78)
What a great ending to the trilogy. It wasn’t exactly what I expected and it definitely left me wanting more, but overall I think it was a great book. If I hadn’t read these books back-to-back with this book’s release I can definitely see how I could have been disappointed in this denouement, but as I didn’t have to wait for the next books in the series I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
Although I enjoyed The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam neither were as great as Oryx and Crake. I’m not sure if it’s the change in writing style, which was minimal or if the last two in the trilogy didn’t have the wonderment of discovering a new old world, but they just didn’t quite live up to the first book. All three made me feel emotions and were beautifully written, so I would definitely recommend them!
What a great continuation of this series! And for a middle novel of a trilogy it definitely held its own which is not always the case. I also enjoyed reading Atwood from a different angle, although it was only a tiny bit different from her other books.
As I mentioned in my Oryx and Crake review every book I’ve read by Atwood has a single narrator who tells their story through a series of flashbacks. This book continues that theme, but rather than it being the same narrator there are two narrators, Ren and Toby, in this book telling their stories.
However, there were again SO many similarities. Each of the narrators, similar to Snowman/Jimmy, experiences the post-apocalyptic world in isolation until about midway through the novel. So looking back at all the characters of Atwood, they’re all isolated (physically, mentally and emotionally) and they all tell their stories from their own perspective. But this is not a bad thing! Atwood gets into each of her character’s minds and creates believable and unique characters which are amazing mirrors of humanity.