Thursday, January 14, 2010
Oh my am I behind. I will blame the fact that my pictures are splayed across two different computers. I may have to do some retroactive posts circa mid-November, but not today. Today I shall tell you about The Blind Assassin. Catchy title, no?
I don't remember where I first heard about this book, I think I just saw it on the shelf and as with all books that have a good cover and a decent sounding summary on the back, I wanted to read it. I picked up a copy in Hong Kong and started reading. At over 500 pages, it took me a while.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is a tale within a tale about a book with a tale. Sounds confusing, but it isn't really. The novel opens with a the elderly narrator, Iris Chase, telling us about the day her younger sister Laura committed suicide by driving off a bridge. She then goes back and forth between her present existence and the troubled history of her family, primarily in regards to herself and her sister . Interwoven through the novel is a book called The Blind Assassin, written by Laura and published posthumously by Iris. This is the most interesting part of the novel--a story of two nameless clandestine lovers. During each rendezvous, the man tells the woman pieces of a science fiction story that takes place on a far away planet.
As the novel progresses, the stories increasingly come together as the lives of everyone in them deteriorates. Atwood creates detailed and distinct characters and the novel is full of well-researched (sometimes seemingly too well-researched) facts as the story covers two world wars. Despite the details, the books is not too flowery or poetic, in fact it is almost matter of fact--no easy task with 500 words. The events of the novel never caused me to hold my breath, but I was intensely interested throughout and the story kept me turning the pages. When I got to the end, however, I admit to feeling a little empty. While it was a good story, I felt that it had no real, defined meaning. It was just a story. The impact wasn't there. I am not left dwelling on the characters, perhaps Atwood answered too many of the questions.