Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

The Blind Assassin

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By Margaret Atwood

There’s no business like making a killing… @Amazon.com
Rating: Hmn?
Read: Dec 31st ’05-Jan 21st ’06

Look at how specific that timeframe is! I bought the book after years of oggling it on New Year’s Eve as something to read on the train ride home. My friends stayed for Times Square but I skipped out and got home perdy much at midnight exactly.

I don’t like this as much as I loved The Handmaid’s Tale. It took me two weeks to get through the first half (odd, since the beginning was so promising), but it did pick up in the last two hundred pages.


On the one hand, I figured out the major ‘secret’ relatively quickly. All the talk about misquotes and ‘why do they idolize her?’ got me thinking. I also guessed the second atrocity at least a hundred pages before it was revealed. So that? Not my cup of tea.

My major complaint is that all the background information took too damn long. Iris and Laura Chase are the daughters of a family that made its money making buttons. Plain, boring, mass-produced buttons that everybody uses and needs. They grew up in the 20s & 30s in this semi-luxurious way… but a huge portion of the book is dedicated to this. It’s narrated by Iris, who is now an old woman writing to explain something about what happened; we don’t yet know what. However, we know a few things. Laura wrote a book called the Blind Assassin, and drove a car off a bridge–presumably suicide. Iris had the book published after her death. So, yes, it makes sense to start at the beginning, to see what kind of people they were.

But BLAAAAH there was just so MUCH of it! Very, very slow pacing… and nothing really intriguing for most of it because they WERE just children.

However, like I said, it does pick up. And then things begin to be very interesting. They start to grow up, but the Depression has eaten away at the button factory… A wealthy man agrees to a business trade… Iris’ hand in marriage for the factories. THAT is the really fateful thing.

So, yes, after she gets married, it really kicks off. Before then, no. However, having finished the book, I now feel like I should reread all that blah at the beginning and look for things I may have missed.

…on the other hand, I’m itching for something light and fluffy and will probably grab a Pratchett or a romance novel.

I will say this, though. I love Margaret Atwood’s voice. By the second half off the book, I recognized it from the Handmaid’s Tale. It’s poetic- full of imagery and wisdom. You can find something on nearly every page that rings true with something deep within yourself.

“(Think twice, said Reenie. Laura said, Why only twice?)” Page 410

Oh, yes! Here’s another thing that frustrated me. (Pardon, but I’m very scatter-brained right now. School starts this week.) It’s a story within a story within a story WITHIN a story.
1. Iris the old woman, growing more and more feeble, who narrates…
2. The life and times Laura and Iris growing up.
3. While excerpting The Blind Assassin, in which two nameless lovers continue a secret affair; the man amuses his lady by telling her about…
4. The Lizard Men of Xenor! The city of Sakiel-Norn, a place of corruption and death! With half-dead harpy women in the desert and blind killers assigned to take out sacrificial virgins!

I wanted to know about the last two. There wasn’t enough of them. Tarnation.

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Written by Shen

January 21, 2006 at 4:08 pm

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