noracharles: (Default)
[personal profile] noracharles

We'll be reading and discussing The Blind Assassin from June 24th to June 30th. Only the first chapter is required reading to participate in the discussion, but of course you're very welcome to read on for as long as you enjoy the book.

The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist. Brilliantly weaving together such seemingly disparate elements, Atwood creates a world of astonishing vision and unforgettable impact.

Because the first chapter is five and a half pages long, I am committing to reading at least the second chapter.
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (King Lear)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Do we find out who the other two people present at the time of the picture are (the person the hand belongs to + the photographer)? @ anyone who's maybe read the whole book.

Re: II - The hard-boiled egg

Date: 2015-06-21 06:02 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Default)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
I always feel a lot annoyed, *g*. But then I decided I didn't care for either of them, so whatevs.

Re: II - The hard-boiled egg

Date: 2015-06-22 04:04 pm (UTC)
kabal42: A headshot of Scarlett Johannsen (Comics - Avengers - Black Widow)
From: [personal profile] kabal42
I was thinking the same. That she is probably a key or something for Laura. I find it hard to really get into either of the second and third tier stories, though the second especially. The third has the trappings of world building, which draws me in a little, as appalling as the world seems to be, and the first story has a good sense of mystery right now. I want to know where that one goes! (Shoot, I may have to read the entire thing *G* I found a preview of the first two chapters on google books for free.)

Re: II - The hard-boiled egg

Date: 2015-06-24 02:49 pm (UTC)
kabal42: Captain America and Iron Man leaning on each other, arms around each other's shoulders (Default)
From: [personal profile] kabal42
I wasn't sure I would, but thanks to you putting up the discussion post so early, I had time :)

Yes, same here. So I guess I hope ;) I might borrow it from the library and find out.

Too bad to hear, though :( And it does make me less inclined to read more.

Re: II - The lipstick heart

Date: 2015-06-21 06:18 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Faniversity - DW campus (Faniversity)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Sounds like a lovely sadist.

Apart from him being creepy, I lose patience with characters who insist on speaking on riddles. Ok, suresen, enough negativity from you :)

I'm super-happy to have read the first chapter - it forced me to think about what I thought about it and put it down in words, and that's never a bad thing. But I'm unlikely to ever understand Atwood/become a fan.

Re: II - The lipstick heart

Date: 2015-06-28 08:37 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Eh, I thought I could motivate myself to look up examples, but hockey ate my brain again, and now I'm over The Blind Assassin. It's also also quite possible I just don't get what he's trying to say, *handwaves*.

Have you managed to read on?
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Yeah, I don't understand what's supposed to be so awesome about the fictional novel?

I think the newspaper clippings style is ok, but I'm not that impressed. But I'm speaking as someone who soured on the novel. Either way, as I point out in my comment messing up your system (sorry, posted comment before reading previous comments for Reasons), the other parts (narration + novel) read similarly to me.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-21 05:57 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
I only took notes on the first chapter - here unedited:

My copy of The Blind Assassin is 641 pages - I'm happy we're not attempting to read whole novels.

But it was an intriguing first chapter - In just one 6-page chapter we get:

A first-person narrative
A newspaper article
A novel within the novel

Wow :)

Basically knowing way too little about literature considering my university degree in literature, I hadn't realized The Blind Assassin was as new as 2000 until I wrote up the schedule for the reading club.

Reading the first lines I was struck with how not-2000 it was written. I don't know Atwood enough to know if she successfully wrote as if she was writing in 1945, or if her writing style is just a little old-fashioned?

She really likes her similes and similar figures of speech - or Iris and Laura do.

Iris (first-person narrative):
feathery with new leaves
no more fuss than stepping off a curb
as if from a distance
as if I'd been to the dentist
like ink spilled in water
less like something she'd chosen to put on than like something she'd been locked up in
as if she were admiring the view
glinting like a dragonfly

Laura (novel within the novel):
leather cases that looked like muzzles
like the heat from a sun-warmed stone at midnight
like a scratched match flaring
as if to fend her off in play
this square, lighted window of glazed paper
as if she's peering into a well or pool
shimmering like a jewel on sand
as if discarded
like ice cream smudged on chrome

Ok O___O

(I read on after the first chapter, but I didn't care for the characters at all, and when the sexual exploitation theme came up, I was reminded why I couldn't get through The Handmaid's Tale, either.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-27 01:59 pm (UTC)
wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
From: [personal profile] wishfulclicking
Did you continue on? Did some of the things bothering you get better? I find The Blind Assassin parts increasingly offputting but I only read the first two chapters.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-28 08:39 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
I think what bothers me is not the themes of sexual assault, but that the women in her stories seem to have so little agency in regards to it. WHICH IS TOTES REALISTIC, but it wearies me.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-27 01:57 pm (UTC)
wishfulclicking: books flying with pale blue background (books: flying)
From: [personal profile] wishfulclicking
I definitely noticed the style in the fake book and and Iris' part. The first sentence intrigued me and I actually wanted to know more about Iris and Laura, and I even kind of liked the Blind Assassin part with the photograph just because the imagery was so well done; but, having said that, I am not really enjoying The Blind Assassin parts and am wondering how the novel became so noted? Maybe it was a case of it getting popular attention even if the build of it may not be so spectacular?

I do remember liking The Handmaid's Tale more than this from the beginning. Penelopiad, which is shorter, is still my favorite of hers; but I haven't read a lot of her works. Still want to check out the Mad Adam trilogy.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-28 08:41 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (King Lear)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
It's a great first sentence!

I don't get why the novel is so noted, but then I don't get why most great novels are noted :)

I think I'm done with Atwood - until the next time I forget I don't like her writing ^___^

But again not unhappy at all to have read a few chapters of something not fanfiction, that is always good!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-07-01 04:39 pm (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (meh)
From: [personal profile] calvinahobbes
Urgh, I completely failed to join in on this convo, but I DID get part-way through III!

I agree that the problem with Atwood is that she writes unpleasant stuff - she's a great writer, but she uses it for creeping her reader out in this really unsettling way that she is very good at, but I just hate feel-bad-reads. *sigh* That said, I really am impressed with her range. This book's style and language is markedly different from Onyx and Crake, which I actually did manage to finish for a uni course.

I'm not actually turned completely off it yet. I like the way she weaves the different styles, and I actually want to know what happens next in The Blind Assassin. I'm actually a little bummed out that I don't really have time to stay with it, because we're on to the next book.