Pollopicu’s review of The Handmaid's Tale > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley Awesome! Looking forward to your take on this one.


message 2: by Jo (new)

Jo I am really interested in seeing what you think of this one too...


message 3: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley I stumbled across a hard bound 1st edition signed of The Blind Assassin by Atwood last week. I'm looking forward to starting that one as well. Tale is the only book by her I've read. She's like the patron saint of Canadian writing. Her and Pierre Burton...and maybe Farley Mowat..hehe


message 4: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley Man...are we far apart on this one! Heheh. I really enjoyed the review. It made me go back and read mine! It's your turn to have a suck book. I finally had a great one. My first for the year.


message 5: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu Which one is that? I can't see it in my updates.
Last year was a much better reading year for me. Although I can't complain too much. This year it's been either all or nothing.


message 6: by Tim (new)

Tim Weakley Swann was the good read.


message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I don't think the 'fuck' example in your review is right at all: yes, the women are all very modest and religious etc but that is because they must be like that to SURVIVE. Offred however remembers life before America became Gilead however and from the kind of person she was before she would almost certainly have said fuck a lot! So she talks about fucking in her memories because that is who she actually is, not the conforming droid she had to present to the Gilead world!
Also, you said it was shocking, and I think it is meant to be; Offred wants to be rebellious against the language she was forced to use, and if she had actually voice her thoughts to the commander or other citizens of Gilead they *would* have been shocked!
I think criticising Atwood's use of 'fuck' shows very little insight into the book. However seeing as you didn't like if from the start, it could be you just weren't involved in it enough to read that much into it...


message 8: by Pollopicu (last edited May 19, 2012 07:31AM) (new)

Pollopicu Just by looking at your profile picture, I'm not going to waste my time discussing anything with you.


message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca So a random picture not of me that I use means my views mean nothing? I was merely pointing out that the example doesn't show the point you were trying to make at all!


message 10: by Checkman (new)

Checkman I like that review. I was a college freshman in 1986 and I had a class in which the novel was an assignment. Seemed very relevant and edgy at the time. It's rather creaky now. But truth be told I thought the religious right was a threat to the United States back then as well. Interesting how time changes one's perpsective.


message 11: by Toni (new)

Toni once i got used to the writing style and realized the back chapter, she had no right for quote marks.


message 12: by Toni (new)

Toni agree, it was difficult for the first few chapters, but you get used to it? no?


message 13: by Lisa Maxwell (new)

Lisa Maxwell Have you read the final chapter -- the "Historical Notes" section? It's imperative to read it in order to understand Atwood's unusual style; and it provides important pieces that will answer a lot of your questions. These aren't given authoritatively, of course; but I think it's an appropriate function of this type of device. I appreciated the "tale" much more, after I finished that chapter.


message 14: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu I read the entire book, from cover to cover.


message 15: by Candice (new)

Candice "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender is the only book I've read that completely omits quotation marks. It was annoying, as I'm sure reading this book must be.


message 16: by Donna (new)

Donna AMEN, sister!


message 17: by Deborah Wells (new)

Deborah Wells Laughed out loud at this: "Just by looking at your profile picture...I'm not going to waste my time discussing anything with you."


message 18: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne Portugal I just finished The Road, & it also doesn't have quotation marks...hmm, maybe they'll be my theme for reading this year "books w/out proper punctuation"
P.s loved your review ;)


message 19: by Tara (new)

Tara I agree with every word you wrote. Getting through this 'novel' was painful and the only reason I continued was to see if it got any better. I thought that surely SOMETHING is going to happen since its a popular book, but no...all I had at the end was an insane amount of questions, relief that I was finished, and irritation that I spent time reading such a shitty book with an interesting premise.


message 20: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Reading your comment regarding Rebecca's picture has made me completely disregard your review.


message 21: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu I appreciate your acknowledgement, all the same.


message 22: by Nikki (new)

Nikki I totally agree. I couldn't even finish the book, I agree with you about the quotation marks too.


message 23: by Matt Moore (new)

Matt Moore Selby didn't add quotation marks or split the dialogue as well. Frustrating read.


message 24: by Antitype (new)

Antitype Sounds like bad comprehension to me. I didn't really find the word "fuck" to be anything "out of the blue", since the book clearly states "the ceremony" is going to take place; and, it is pretty obvious what it is, since many of the women there are obsessed over pregnancy. As for the quotation marks, they were not used because they were thoughts on things that happened in the past. It does start off slow, but you have to look past the dull presentation, which she does so on purpose.


message 25: by Ethan (new)

Ethan The book sucks, but Atwood is an excellent writer. Her prose is very good, though sometimes it gets a little overblown. Her pacing is probably the weakest aspect of her writing. Well, except for this book. I am having a hell of a time finishing it, and I typically love her stuff.


message 26: by William (new)

William Baker I couldn't deal with this book after giving it a good try.

I found it predictable and long winded. The whole "evil religion" thing has been done to death. I don't find it "edgy" or relevant. I find it boring.

The no quotation mark thing is popular these days. Cormac McCarthy does it in his long winded books. And William Gay did it also in his contemporary novels.


message 27: by Steve (new)

Steve Best review I've read this week.


message 28: by Bonnita (new)

Bonnita This book is practically an embodiment of Atwood herself. A fiercely feminist and political figure. The story line of this book is reflective of this worldview. As for "evil religion," I must disagree with that analysis. I think this book is rather a critique of "evil people" who pervert an otherwise innocuous religion.

As for not having "proper" punctuation - who said that you have to write the way your third grade teacher taught you? You get use to the flow of the book and quotation marks are irrelevant for most of it. Regardless, if she chose not to use quotation marks, there was likely a reason (referenced in previous comments). Why be constrained by typical syntax?

By the way - what the h.ll does a person's profile picture have to do with their comment? That is incredibly arrogant, rude and judgmental. Grow up.


message 29: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Thank you Bonnita!
Pollopicu, perhaps now I've changed my profile picture several times - you can even look through my recent ones to find the "me" you would most like to reply to - you could reply to my comment rather than using a personal attack/insult, a.k.a. the ad hominem fallacy, to excuse yourself from dealing with what I actually said, which a year later I still think is a perfectly valid point.


message 30: by Ailsa (new)

Ailsa When you say "this book doesn't flow at all" I don't know what you're trying to drive at. The disjointed quality of the text is an example of the unreliable narration which ties into the way history has to determined from a number of sources.
Reading this book, I'm amazed at the complexity of the writing and the deep themes it conveys. Those questions you couldn't find the answer to were actually addressed in the book, perhaps not as overtly as you would of liked it seems.

Atwood wrote "The Handmaid's Tale" in response to the growing tides against feminism throughout the eighties and the increasing support of the extreme religious right. It's all there... IN the book.

The Handmaid's Tale works very well as a dystopic novel, but can have multiple readings that are equally insightful.

Maybe because it didn't immediately live up to your expectations, you didn't bother to spend the time searching deeper understandings and blaming it on Atwood's bad writing, 'I've seen reviewers on goodreads who are better at writing than her.' is a bit petty.


message 31: by Bridget (new)

Bridget Did we read the same book??


message 32: by Jamie (new)

Jamie All the Pretty Horses is similar. It has no quotations so you never know who is speaking and have to reread lines multiple times to try to figure it out.


message 33: by Bridget (new)

Bridget I think this book might have been slightly over your head.


message 34: by Pollopicu (last edited Jun 09, 2012 08:03PM) (new)

Pollopicu To state that a book is over someone's head simply because they have a different view from your own is ignorant and close-minded. A learned reader appreciates and respects varying opinions in literature. You obviously aren't mature or perceptive enough to realize this.


message 35: by Bridget (new)

Bridget My perception isn't that this book was over your head because your view is different from mine. It's obvious from your review that you simply didn't understand many of the stylistic choices Atwood made.


message 36: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu I understood them quite well. I guess you feel everyone you come across has to have the same experience as you in reading Atwood. Her stylistic choices are precisely what I didn't appreciate about her writing. I believe that's a personal manner between me and Atwood.
I think it's incredibly naive of you to accuse anyone of lacking insight simply because they don't interpret the novel in the same manner as you do. The same could be said about Atwood herself...perhaps she didn't execute her ideas in a way way that helps the reader acknowledge her "style". The bottom line is that Atwood in my opinion is one of the worst writers, technically and conceptually that I've come across.


message 37: by Bonnita (new)

Bonnita I believe it is one thing to say that you do not like a writer's style (perfectly reasonable), but it is something else entirely to believe that because you and the writer have personal, esthetic differences and would undoubtedly write very dissimilar novels that this makes them a 'bad' writer. I believe that there are very few 'bad' writers as it is such a subjective idea. Even sytax that would conventionally be considered poor grammar (ie, lack of quotation marks), can be a useful tool when developing a novel's style/content.

There is also the very strong possibility (given the subject matter of the novel), that Atwood intentionally wrote in a confusing fashion - then the reader becomes as confused as the characters. Everything the character once knew as reality has vanished and been replaced by new societal rules/norms/values - so Atwood represents this to her readers by doing the same to their concept of traditional ways of writing (again, ie, new grammar rules).

Everyone just needs to cool it. Sure this reviewer's opinion doesn't jive for some people (myself included), but this doesn't make the reviewer any less intelligent. As for the reviewer, sure, you might not have liked Atwood's personal style, doesn't mean she is a bad writer.

Here's another generalization (while we're at it), we on these boards are supposed to be intelligent, cultured people (people who read the book before watching the movie, type people!), and yet even we can't be civilized?


message 38: by Bonnita (new)

Bonnita Also, while we are discussing the conventions of civil discussion - why respond to Rebecca's comment on your review, Reviewer? I mean, if while we are on the subject of jumping to conclusions at all - maybe a person's display picture doesn't *completely* negate any comments she might make...? Just an idea.


message 39: by Bonnita (new)

Bonnita Geez, Louise - If you hadn't noticed, I actually defended your right to dislike the book and then I politely countered the arguments you made in both your review and subsequent comments. If you would prefer people not continue a discussion (which presumably would build on comments made by other posters), then I would suggest you not post a review. However, by posting a review, you leave it open for anyone to comment (without your moderation, I might add).

My comments regarding 'cooling it' were directed to the rather personal comments of naivite and lack of intelligence - in addition to the very brash (if not outright rudeness) in your original review.

And for your information, this has not been my first comment on your review as I have been following it closely after my own post and after discovering your incredibly hostile response to Rebecca's post of March 12. Thus I reiterate. You post, and you open yourself/your review up to critique.


message 40: by Pollopicu (last edited Jun 10, 2012 01:41PM) (new)

Pollopicu I apologize, in my rush of multi-tasking with several different projects I misunderstood your post. I deleted my previous comments.


message 41: by Ben (new)

Ben Andrew In reading part of your review, I'm not sure you've grasped particular ideas within Atwood's novel.

The lack of quotation marks in speech, in my opinion, seems to display elements of relationship between Offred and other characters. Note the way quotation marks fall and rise between herself and the Commander? It seems to me that quotation marks are used when she has a particular attachment to a character, or they are shown to be of more substance at the time. The lack of quotation marks throughout may indicate her detachment from the world that she lives in, and the bleak atmospheres and characters that she encounters.

As for Atwood's use of harsh language, again, I think this relates to Offred's outlook upon the mistreatment and devastation that women face in the climate, and therefore, these lexical choices allow us to relate with her detachment and anger.

Although, abd interesting review and a new outlook upon the novel, I must say.


message 42: by Ben (new)

Ben Andrew Although I will point out, you're opinions are backed up by learned literary knowledge. I have thoroughly enjoyed many contemporary novels on my course BECAUSE of their irregularities, but obviously not everyone enjoys them. Again, an interesting review with an interesting opinion :)


message 43: by Angela (new)

Angela Bagwell The writing style Atwood uses all the more expresses the confinements that the subject experiences. All the way down to the dull confinements of her mundane life that she is now living. She's only allowed to catch glimpses of what is going on and Atwood will not allow the reader to get sneak peaks to see past it. Offred doesn't know what happened hence the reader won't know. And the use of fuck is to express that that's exactly what is happening to her, there's no love makingand hell iI guess in this subjugated world its not even rape.... She's just getting fucked.


message 44: by Caitriona (new)

Caitriona I agree with your comment in the review about the word "fucking" - it's ugly. Yes, I suppose what was going on in that situation WAS pretty ugly, but surely a professional writer could think of a more sophisticated term.


message 45: by Petergiaquinta (new)

Petergiaquinta You write: "I don't think I've ever come across a novel yet in which there's no distinction between the narrator and the character, and it took me quite a while to get used to it."

Really? You haven't read a novel before without a distinction between narrator and character? You haven't read any novels in first-person? There's a number of them out there...

And you'd think maybe the title of Atwood's novel might have tipped you off to this avant-garde technique in fiction writing, but it is a tad ambiguous maybe. Good luck!


message 46: by Bridget (new)

Bridget I can give you the reason people did not fight back. The same reason people NEVER fight back. The Jews went along. Many of the Africans did also. The people who did fight back died... which only frighten the non fighters. Besides when do we ever have all the answers?? I like the feeling of not everything is wrapped up in a nice neat bow. That you are given the opportunity to think for yourself. Does that make it a bad book? A book that does not give you all the answers? A book that allows you to think about what the possible answers could be? That is your definition of a bad book?


message 47: by Gretchen (new)

Gretchen There aren't any quotation marks in "Cry, The Beloved Country" either. And it is very disconcerting.


message 48: by Monika (new)

Monika I really thought i had lost a screw not liking such a popular book. Good grief, I'm reading it now, now past 100pg and i honestly feel like I'm wasting my time and given that books don't ever make feel that way no matter how crap they may be, you can imagine the horror!


message 49: by Emily (new)

Emily This book isn't as good as I hoped and I love a thoughtful attack on renowned books but...I'm assuming there was dose of hyperbole in your into statements, but there are quotation marks - she just uses them sparingly. For example when the commander is speaking and reading to the household she uses quotes to mark his speech (not sure of the page number - I'm using an e-reader). Fair enough if you don't agree with or enjoy her stylistic choice. However, how could there be a distinction in narrator and and main character - it's a first-person narrative e.g. the narrator and character are the same? There are some inconsistencies in perspective but, again, that's a stylistic choice and a different criticism.


message 50: by T.E. (new)

T.E. THANK YOU!! God almighty, I couldn't stand this book. It's so--full of itself. "Oh, I'm so profound and shocking, and to prove it I'm going to write boring sex scenes and TONS of sentence fragments". I appreciate some of her diction, but the pseudo-profundity of the book and Atwood herself just had me rolling my eyes. But anyway, yes, yes, yes, you nailed it, I'm with you. Nice!


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