"Having experienced both, I'm not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it."
You may or may not remember that I started reading The Blind Assassin for a readalong waaaaaay back at the beginning of December, but hey look! I finally finished it! In my complete defence, I didn't forget about the readalong at all, but it was really poorly structured (by admission of the person who structured it, I might add) and the second week involved reading something stupid like 300 pages all at once and I was just not up for that shit. So, The Blind Assassin fell by the wayside and I finally got back into it sometime in January. And now it's now.
I wouldn't recommend doing this, by the way. Sometimes it works ok, like when you're really not into a book (AHEM Crime and Punishment) and you need to leave it for a while so you can get back to it and start liking it again, but when you're basically in love with the book? Leaving it and then coming back seems, firstly, foolish, but it's just like you have to make an effort to get back into it and a book you love should never really feel like an effort.
So now you know how to read things properly. I'm glad.
The Blind Assassin is kind of an epic book, but at the same time it's a kind of really close character examination. It covers the entire life of Iris, our main character and gracious narrator, and all the things that were spiralling around her at various points in her life, but since it's all told from her viewpoint, it's basically an examination of her thoughts and actions about things that happened, and things that she would have done differently.
That's one of my favourite things about the book, actually. The fact that Iris is telling all of this with the benefit of hindsight means that she can look at all her past actions critically and think about what she could have done differently, or sometimes she just accepts that there's nothing she could have done because of the lack of choice there was for women when she was 18 or so. What all of this really means, though, is that The Blind Assassin has one of my very favourite things in literature, which is characters ruminating on what it's like to grow old. Iris can regret and be sad about the past all she likes, but really she'd give anything to be that young again, even if it means living through it all again. Which, obviously, is exactly what I want from my old lady characters in books.
"The old wish the young well, but they wish them ill also: they would like to eat them up and absorb their vitality, and remain immortal themselves. Without the protection of surliness and levity, all children would be crushed by the past- the past of others, loaded onto their shoulders."I guess I should talk about The Blind Assassin now. And by The Blind Assassin, I mean the book within this book that at times seems like it's just a device to get things into the story that aren't really directly relevant to it (I mean, women who are literally unable to speak? It's like Feminism 101 up in here!) but I PROMISE you that if you go on reading it all will become clear, and make you want to read the entire book from the beginning again because all of a sudden everything is cast in a new light. I realise this is annoyingly vague, but basically, I was vaguely annoyed by The Blind Assassin because it broke up the flow of Iris's narrative which I was really into, but now I'm wondering if it's not the most interesting part of the novel.
So basically. Margaret Atwood is the master of writing things, and of writing things from a woman's perspective, and I'm kind of genetically predisposed to like the things she writes, I think. BUT this is absolutely the best thing I've read by her since The Handmaid's Tale, and The Handmaid's Tale is basically one of my absolute favourite books. So this is really good, is what I'm saying, and I'm willing to bet it's even better when you don't take a month's break in the middle of it. So go and read it now, please? Thank you!