Monday, October 26, 2009

Surfacing (Margaret Atwood)

Why, oh why, did it take me this long to discover Atwood? Her books are amazing, if sometimes very hard to read. This one reminds me of The Bell Jar, and there is an obvious parallel of a woman struggling with a mental breakdown.

But, as with all of her novels, it’s more than that. She covers many themes of patriarchy and oppression, weaving hints of them through the story in subtle (and very obvious) ways. I love the way the story spirals to a conclusion such that only as the main character breaks with reality do we see what’s really happened. Clarity through insanity? Or is she implying that the reality we live in the modern world is really insane?

The big themes are here - abortion, rape, adultery, man’s inhumanity to animals, why Americans suck. Atwood leaves me wondering though – what happened to her parents? Did they die on the island? Were they trying to escape modernity? Did they go insane the same way she did? And what of her brother? Why was the man child the one caged in (literally)? Did he drown? She seems to say no, but we hear nothing of what happened to him.

Anyway, loved this book. Didn’t last long enough. Much like the other Atwood novels I’ve read.

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