Friday, January 04, 2013

What I read this week - Christmas Presents and Prose

So, the holidays are over which means it’s time to bit*ch and moan about them. In all actuality the rest of the family had a great vacation. Well, maybe just the kids. They got everything they wanted, and then some for Christmas, and, as an added bonus, got to see their cousin for the first time in over a year.

Wife did well on Christmas but she starts her new job… well yesterday… so she was a total stress ball. Add that to my Brothers visit which meant she got to spend twice as much time with her in-laws as normal and she would call the holidays a push.

As for me, I got to work on everyone else’s list. I got to put toys together, update the computer so all the electro-gizzies the kids got would work, photocopy for 4 hrs so Wife would be set for the new job, and listening to the wife vent about my parents. It was humdinger. Not to mention I stacked… I mean STACKED my Amazon list so I would get cool new sh*t for Christmas. Out of 800 possible selections Wife bought 3 items and managed to pick 2 of which I had already ordered from my LCS. Are you kidding me???? Sadly, I was happy to go back to work this week.

The best comic book selections from the holidays were the Thrill Power Overload hc and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.  Basically, I got the history of Marvel Comics and Eagle/2000AD. It’s glorious and even though I’ve finished neither, they have both been terrific so far based on spot reading.

The one book I got without pictures was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Briefly, in the future there was a revolution and all women’s rights were revoked. They could no longer own land, work, learn to read, or write. Their sole function is to have children in order to continue the human race. Our narrator remembers the days before the change when she had a job and a family. Now she is nothing more than a handmaiden who’s purpose is to create a child with one of the leaders of the revolution. This is her story.

If you like novels of dystopian futures then you need to find a copy of this! This is one of the best I have ever read and I’ve read a lot. This isn’t nearly as bleak as Orwell’s 1984 or Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl but it’s damn close.

What sets this apart is the female perspective and the stream of consciousness style of writing. The writing is fractured and disjointed which captures the essence of our lead perfectly. She is a broken woman living in a very scary time. Atwood does a great job of giving her a ‘voice’ and her loneliness and pain practically drip off the page. But, even with all that there is some ember of hope that isn't normally present in such stories.  Maybe it was because of the female lead or maybe it's because the story is so real that you can't, don't want to believe, it's as bad as described.

It's that sense of reality that really made the most impact.  The simple truth is this probably isn’t that far from actual events taking place today. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of the women in Iran who lost their rights years ago. I couldn’t help but think about the women in Egypt whose rights are tenuous at best. As much as I wanted to believe the circumstances in this novel could never happen here, it’s hard to convince myself. Maybe that’s what made this book so scary, the fact that it could very well happen here.

I am sure this is available at your local library so I highly recommend checking it out.

That's all for now and this is long enough.  Enjoy your weekend!


  1. I read this a couple of decades ago. It was written, to some degree, as a reaction to the Reagan years. It stuck with me, but I'm overdue for re-reading it. Probably the most similar place for women today is Afghanistan. More Stone Age in technology but a similar treatment of women.

  2. A reaction to Reagan? Now that's scary considering how his presidency has evolved into the last great thing over time.

    If anything, the book is even more relevant today than it was back then.