Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blind Assassin

Ok, so I will freely admit it...I have been in a reading rut.  Well not so much a reading rut, but a writing rut.  Blind Assassin marks the 5th (maybe 6th) book I have read in the last few months for which I have not written a review.  I know some of our readers must be sad.  Wait, do we still have readers?  Oh well....

I do have a credible (in my estimation) excuse.  That being the baby we are expecting in the early part of summer sucks all my brain cells normally dedicated to writing and uses them for more useful things, like fashioning itself out of small bits of DNA.  So baby excuse aside, I will attempt to write more reviews over the next couple of weeks of books I need to let the world know I have read, if for no other reason than to try to jog my memory of their various subject matters. 

The Blind Assassin: A NovelThe Blind Assasin by Margaret Atwood....what do I think of this book?  Interesting.  It is the second of her books I have read.  The first, A Handmaid's Tale was so incredibly odd and engrossing and obfuscated that I STILL don't know what I think about that one.  This must be the modus operandi for Ms. Atwood's writings.  She, like no other modern author I am aware of (keep in mind that limits the scope quite a bit), approaches storytelling in shocking and very dissimilar ways.  I get the feeling by reading just two of her books that upon opening one of her novels, the reader will never quite be sure of what to expect. 
Case in point, the story of The Blind Assasin is equal parts: novel within a novel, flashback sequences to tell a story, fictional newspaper clippings, and modern day musings.  Atwood weaves the tale (let's call it a mystery) in so many different ways, it can be offputting to the reader.  Often I found myself trying to remember what I should have already known about the characters, while attempting to guess at what was coming next.   The story that spans the period between the World Wars appeals to the senses of the reader and includes many images that blur the lines between the author's created fiction and her created reality.  In a way, Atwood gives almost everything to the reader but then removes just one or two things, thus blinding (get it?) the reader to the real truth.  When you get to the end, you feel almost let down, like you didn't really get the mystery solved, but you are left with more questions.  Again, I think this must be a hallmark of Atwood's work. 

Bottom line: I don't think I get it as much as I should, although it wasn't bad.  This would be an excellent book club selection, as it would generate much discussion. 

Rating: 5 out ot 7



  1. This is one of my favourite Atwood books. I would recommend that you tru Alias Grace, it is a bit more traditional in the way that the story is told but the story is fascinating

  2. Leah, I sometimes feel like there is a big conspiracy of silence of 'things they don't tell you before you get pregnant because then you never would' and the lack of interest in reading is one of them! I found exactly the same thing. Funny isn't it. Like Becky, I really loved the Blind Assassin - I think it repays re-reading, because then you notice all the clues. I also found the historical period really interesting.

  3. I will admit to bias, because I am in love with all things Atwood, but I think part of her brilliance is that her books seem so different in style, but so similar in theme and tone. If you liked The Handmaid's tale, I suggest trying Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. The Year of the Flood is my book club's next selection, and I can't wait to talk about it. It is also speculative fiction a la The Handmaid's Tale.

  4. I definitely find Atwood an interesting author! I wish I had a book club still, so I could read and discuss like you Heather!

    No hate on the way she writes, but I do find she requires much of her reader. This is not fluff stuff.

    I saw Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood at the library for very cheap yesterday, maybe I will run back and see if I can get them.

    Becky: maybe when I get back to the library, they will have Alias Grace - thanks for the suggestion!

    teadevotee: thanks for letting me I am not alone!