Andy's Reviews > Surfacing

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
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's review
Oct 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read from October 01 to 02, 2011 — I own a copy

I picked this up in a camp site book selection earlier this year in a rather isolated area, which seems somewhat fitting.

We spend most of the book in the head of our protagonist, absorbed in the past physically and emotionally as she tries to determine what happened to her missing Father. Very little 'happens' as such but Atwood takes us on a journey none the less.

The language and prose is magical and precise at conjuring a vivid and completely visual wilderness. The environment is as much a character (possibly more so), that the sorry people we do spend time with. I found it hard to relate to any of them, what with the rabid anti-Americanism, the hippy-like anti-capitalist stance, the sexual mistreatment and lack of respect they seem to have for each other, the shallowness of their lives. It's not that enjoyable, and as we get led down the path of insanity and loss it all becomes rather melancholy. She finds it easier to accept her father as crazy than dead, and she turns that way too when given the choice of truth.

I love reading but have always shied away from literary studies and criticism - I just don't see books that way. So, undoubtedly there is a lot more text in this book than the simple words put across; they just don't mean much to me. I wonder what her father would have thought of her, the way she acted. Given what we learn of him, I think he would have found it quite disturbing and unexplained. A woman tortured by the choices she has made (or been forced into), unable to trust or love or be content, lost in her current place in the world, distanced from the innocent girl she was not that long ago.

Sad and melancholy and very well written. Despite not liking it that much, Margaret Atwood is a powerful writer.

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