For 26 days and from A to Z, the Masthead is publishing three things—the first three things—that come to mind…a reader’s word association if you will. This is day two. Continue reading
For an author known to upend the conventional to suit her purpose, Margaret Atwood missed the mark with Alias Grace. History called the shots in this one, and perhaps such a restraint proved too large a hurdle.
The 1843 murder of the gentleman Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper mistress Nancy Montgomery is lifted from the historical record, along with the characters of Grace Marks, the titular murderess, and James McDermott, her alleged co-conspirator.
Ripe and festering with a young girl’s maligned reputation, shifting identities, lunacy and crime, the Kinnear-Montgomery double murder should have been putty in the hands of Atwood, normally a convincing author as well as temptress to the imagination and one who has tricks for curling the corners of her sentences into sly little images…but putty it proved not to be. Continue reading
Oryx and Crake · Margaret Atwood
Random House, 2003 · 376 pages, paperback
Chickens have been reduced to tits and meat (heads no longer required) and pigs have become living organ farms. Live executions, porn, assisted suicides and naked news anchors stream freely online. Botox is laughable because new skins, head to toe, can be grown if you have enough money. Art and language are, at best, mere tools for marketing scientific achievements or, at worst, subjects of derision. Jimmy grows up in a future that is a grotesque parody of our own present.
And then plague erases this comedy and it really is time to start anew. This second future is the milieu of the Crakers, and it isn’t always easy to tell which is the more bleak.