Monday, October 8, 2007

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Backblurb: The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist. Brilliantly weaving together such seemingly disparate elements, Atwood creates a world of astonishing vision and unforgettable impact.

My take: I started out pretty well, then slowly getting more and more disoriented. With more characters introduced, I felt things getting murkier. After recovering several chapters in , and sorting out who was who, backtracking to understand the importance of newspaper stories interspersed ... I started picking up pace and started enjoying myself. I was hooked.

Once in that quagmire of several stories happening all at once, I actually resisted leaving. I felt like I was racing to the finish line. Seemingly discrete characters and mini-stories magically melded and converged at the end. I was ecstatic and reluctant at having finished the last page. It was like I became privy to a huge secret. Atwood is truly a master at pacing her readers!

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  1. Welcome Aloi! Thanks for contributing this review. I think many readers of this book have had similar feelings, going from murkiness to being completely hooked. It's a very unusual book!

  2. Hi Laura, yep, it's the first time I've read anything like it. Though I have heard a lot of comments that some of Atwood's other books are leagues better. So I'm definitely going to put Atwood on my TBR list.