How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next - if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions - you’d be doomed. You’d be as ruined as God. You’d be a stone. You’d never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You’d never love anyone, ever again. You’d never dare to.
It is quite hard to sit with this book. I read most of your posts and nodded my head because the content didn’t seem to live up to the blurb and those awesome lines in the beginning where Atwood strings the words ‘shipwrecks’ ‘romance’ ‘jungles’ ‘tropical islands’ ‘mountains’ ‘space’ together. I’m not too fond of her characters and I find myself unable to follow the story completely but I’m reading on because Atwood is famous for literary surprises. She ties stories together at the end but even before reaching that point, I’m just reading for the writing.
I read parts of this book out loud and discovered that there’s a distinct voice and rhythm. She’s really a talented writer. Also, somewhere in the 200’s and 300’s are snippets about Buddhism, quotes from Tennyson and allusions to Oscar Wilde. So yeah, I’m keeping my thumb locked on this lowly 100th page.
Also, how do you feel about world-making in relation to affairs? I think this is why I have a soft spot for this book. The language of affairs is a language of make-believe here it is: the story of two people who built their own world in order to fit into an already existing one. Plus the epigraphs which a lot of people think are too much for any book to start with seem perfect for this one. The Polish journalist, Kapuscinski plus the writing on an urn from Carthage and Sheila Watson’s words seem to highlight the whole world-making/destroying thing. Hmm, what do you think?
I’ll go with thoughts, since I never actually finished the book. I’ll be frank with this: I joined this club because I’m dyslexic and really need something that will encourage me to try to read more. I like reading, it’s just really hard for me to get through books that I don’t really love. This tumblr is great, I really appreciate what you guys’ve done, and before I start with my brief thoughts on the most recent book, The Blind Assassin, I’ll give you a one word description of what I thought of the previous books so you know whether or not to trust my reviews.
Everything is Illuminated- fantastic!
Tell All- I’m undecided about whether I liked this one or not
The Great Gatsby- I read some, liked it, but decided I’d finish the rest later this year since we have to read it for school. Also I was really busy at the time.
The Thousand Autumns of Andrew de Zoet - honestly, I didn’t read it.
A Clockwork Orange- GREAT! after you get used to the slang of course though…
Flipped- Juvenile, but good more or less.
The Blind Assassin- I hated the narrative “normal story” part and fail to see any sort of plot, much of a storyline or how it fits in with the rest of the book “the story within a story” part. “The story within a story” part I actually really liked, at first I thought it would be one continuous, semi-historical, sci-fi story that switched off every other chapter; which would have kept me reading the book. However, there was a certain point in the book, around page 80-something and then again around page 100-something where I just gave up on the book all together. I never, never ever, give up on books. Even if they’re bad I have to read through to keep from feeling guilty about quitting. This book is the only exception to this rule since I really couldn’t follow the story that much, or I’m sorry, stories, and I’m not to fond of the writing style either. Now don’t get me wrong, there were some very quotable moments that I read, usually in the inside story bit, to the point where I think I’ve reached my maximum quote limit on Read Hard, but overall the storyline just wasn’t worth wasting my time on 500-some pages (which I know most of you think isn’t much, but for a really busy, high school junior, who also is dyslexic…it’s a lot).
I just really hope the next book is better basically.
I’ve never been inclined to read this book — hell, I’ve never been inclined to read Atwood. But now is as good a time as any, I guess. And, well, reading The Blind Assassin, I’m very much aware of how masterful the crafting is: A narrative within a novel within the actual novel. A sci-fi tale within a love story within a family saga. It’s admirable, even awe-inspiring.
Although, a part of me suspects Atwood wrote the “inner novel” separately, and no one wanted to publish it, har, and decided to put it inside a fat novel. [I did that once, in a short story. It didn’t work, mostly because I was too obvious.] And it’s this suspicion that prevents me from completely falling forward into the narrative[s]. That, and the fact that I just don’t like that “inner novel,” also called — confuzzlingly enough, thanks, Atwood — The Blind Assassin. I grit my teeth when the narrative breaks — Iris’ present + reminiscences — to make way for Laura’s posthumously published novel — I just don’t like the form used. I gnash said teeth when the characters in that novel digress to some sci-fi yarn to pass the time — I don’t like that genre.
I am a grouch. But I trudge on. Mostly because I really like Iris. And there are gems — I’ve quoted parts here — that have me in awe of Atwood’s prose. At least, Atwood’s prose in the Iris context. Augh. I’m trying not to skip Laura’s sandwiched novel altogether, but it’s a struggle.
The real name of the city was erased from memory by the conquerors, and this is why - say the taletellers - the place is now known only by the name of its own destruction. The pile of stones thus marks both an act of deliberate remembrance, and an act of deliberate forgetting. They’re fond of paradox in that region.” page 11.
(No, not really, but I do have a question.)
I’m about seventy pages into the book (I know, slowpoke), but I was just wondering, for the people that have been able to read fairly into the book: which part are you more interested?
“The Blind Assassin” is often described as having a novel-within-a-novel, and while I do enjoy the voice of Iris, I think I’m more attached to the sci-fi story (laden with an illicit affair!). I don’t know if it’s the format of the story (lack of quotation marks, yet there having a clear delineation as to what is being said and what is being narrated). I think the idea is also very interesting, as these two ‘genres’ don’t really get mixed together very often.
Anyway, a couple more questions, Read Hard! members:
Please remember that you are free to submit: quotes, thoughts, questions, etc. I’ll be posting a reading playlist soon, some of you might want to do something like that, too. Discussion posts are always welcome, as are book-clubby ones.
And please remember that comments for each post are turned on, so if you have something to say, feel free to do so. :)