I didn't read this particular edition -- I have an old, used book store edition that I got as a gift from my high school English teacher senior year.I didn't read this particular edition -- I have an old, used book store edition that I got as a gift from my high school English teacher senior year.
Anyway, this is a perennial favorite of mine, and it gets better every time I read it. There's always something new that I wonder about -- in this case, I started to wonder about some of the vocabulary he uses. I always just assumed that a lot of the words were made up. But I just looked up "viviparous" and it's an actual word. So next time I read this, I think I'll read it with a dictionary at hand. Through the context you get the meaning, but it's still interesting to me.
1/7/12: Read this time for one of my book clubs. A fast-paced read, and entertaining as always. This time through it occurred to me early on that it's a very sexist view of the future, and probably was also very shocking at the time due to the constant refrain of "everyone belongs to everyone else." I'll be really interested to discuss this with everyone....more
I'm not sure when I originally read this - probably late in high school or in college - but I'm very glad I came back to it. If you've forgotten the bI'm not sure when I originally read this - probably late in high school or in college - but I'm very glad I came back to it. If you've forgotten the basic premise, the narrator, Offred (like "of Fred" - as in the male head of her current household, her name changes as she is moved from place to place), is a handmaid - her only job is to bear a child in a society where pollution and viruses have made many people sterile. She lives with a high-ranking political/military leader and his wife, and each month participates in a bizarre sex ritual with both of them. She is old enough to remember a time "before," when she could do things like have a job, and raise her daughter, and wasn't forced to participate in weird community religious ceremonies.
In Offred's telling, it was really the speed and ease with which the rights of all women were stripped away that got me. Fire all women employed anywhere, move their (state held) bank accounts (society is cashless and no credit cards) to their closest male next of kin, and voila.
I definitely recommend reading this again (or to begin with) if you haven't recently. I could not put this down and read it in two nights, staying up much later than I should have. Ooops.
Date originally read: Not sure - over a decade at least. Change in rating? Yes - three to five stars...more
I enjoyed this quite a bit, and it was interesting to read in the wake of some of the other books I've torn through recently. This book covers some faI enjoyed this quite a bit, and it was interesting to read in the wake of some of the other books I've torn through recently. This book covers some familiar territory for Oates -- family life and the attendant emotions and issues when something goes terribly wrong. We follow two sisters in the aftermath of the murder of their mother; the book is told from the point of view of the "party girl" sister, Nikki, who is transformed through her grief over her mother's death. There is a little bit of the familiar "misguided woman/lecherous men" theme, for lack of a better word, but this protagonist has more control over the situation. Whether that is because it takes place in contemporary time (as opposed to 30+ years ago, in the case of "A Garden of Earthly Delights") or is due more to the character is hard to say, though I imagine it is a little of both.
The story pulled me along nicely, though there were a few scenes and revelations that I felt weren't quite fleshed out enough to warrant inclusion. For example, we discover (late in the book), that Nikki's father had anger management problems he managed to hide from his daughters. I was unclear on how this was a useful piece of information -- to my mind, it didn't do anything to explain anyone's behavior.
That said, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who's not previously read any Oates and wonders why I am so into her. :)...more
This one took some warming up to. The tone is very frantic and choppy, but it eventually starts to smooth out a little bit. At first that really annoyThis one took some warming up to. The tone is very frantic and choppy, but it eventually starts to smooth out a little bit. At first that really annoyed me, but it goes with the main character, who does not have the best life. She is the daughter of German immigrants who come to a small town in upstate New York and wind up persecuted by the townspeople. Eventually her family falls apart and she marries a man who turns out to be an abusive alcoholic who doesn't seem to actually want to have a family. The bulk of the book focuses on her life with this man and after she leaves him. The character slowly grew on me, as you can see her taking control of her life, if not in the best ways. (This is more than I feel you sometimes see with Oates' female characters.) I wouldn't say this book was a favorite of mine, and I wouldn't recommend it as the first thing you read by Oates, but I liked it well enough and definitely recommend that fans pick it up....more
I picked this up at the Mass Library Association 2007 Conference, after hearing the author speak about it. It's an interesting story, and I think if yI picked this up at the Mass Library Association 2007 Conference, after hearing the author speak about it. It's an interesting story, and I think if you actually did what you were supposed to -- call the phone numbers in the book, visit the websites & explore them, really examine the ephemera included -- it'd be super fun. But I just wasn't motivated to do that alone.
If anyone wants to borrow this let me know, it's kind of neat....more
This is the first book in a quartet Oates wrote when she was young, and it is both like and not like her more recent writings. While the focus of theThis is the first book in a quartet Oates wrote when she was young, and it is both like and not like her more recent writings. While the focus of the book is still on a woman (Clara) and the choices she makes to get by, much of the story revolves around and is told from the perspective of the men in her life -- father, son, husband, lover, etc.
This book isn't quite as dark as I have come to expect from her writing, though that is not to say it is a happy story. For the second half of the book, it felt as though Clara had more control over her life than I usually feel Oates' female characters do (though one can always argue she was "choosing to choose" her only options). In any case, I recommend this -- it was an interesting, compelling story....more
This was pretty good -- kind of a modern take on an Austenian love story. Quick read, and I enjoyed it well enough, though there were certainly some pThis was pretty good -- kind of a modern take on an Austenian love story. Quick read, and I enjoyed it well enough, though there were certainly some parts that were a little pat.
I came back to this little "review" because I know it really doesn't tell you anything, but I really don't have anything more to say. I guess essentially this was an enjoyable enough read, but nothing remarkable....more