Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

The Blind Assassin
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Specific List Books > The Blind Assassin/Margaret Atwood

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message 1: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:01PM) (new) - added it

Barbara Anyone out there reading The Blind Assassin. I just finished A Handmaid's Tale by Atwood and really enjoyed it.
Much as I tried to get into a couple of others on the list, The Blind Assassin was calling out to me from my pile of books next to the bed :-).
So far it's very interesting and different.


message 2: by Tara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new) - added it

Tara | 1 comments The Blind Assassin was a great payoff, but it's not as easy a read as Handmaid's Tail (just in my opinion). She does the parallel story thing, and one story is much more intriguing than the other (and so I would often get frustrated when she would skip back to the less interesting one). I'm actually a huge Atwood fan--my favorites by her are Alias Grace, Oryx and Crake, and Cat's Eye. Let me know what you think about Blind Assasin!

--Tara


message 3: by Courtney (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Courtney Stirrat The Blind Assassin is one of my favorite books ever!


message 4: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new) - added it

Barbara Thanks for the comments.
I have a feeling I'm going to be stuck on her for awhile. I'm not sure how I missed reading her books
before now.


message 5: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new)

Rebecca (rebsbooks) I loved Handmaid's Tale, but then ODed on her when I took a course in college (we read almost everything she wrote in the way of fiction, basically). I liked some of her short stories and I thought Cat's Eye was pretty good. But Edible Woman and Bodily Harm were too similar and I didn't care for them. This class was before Alias Grace, et al., so it may be time to give her another try, now that I won't be totally saturated.


message 6: by Courtney (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Courtney Stirrat One of her more recent novels, Oryx and Crake, is definitely one to check out! Other than a brief attempt at A Handmaiden's Tale in high school, it was the first Atwood I read. It is very different from Blind Assassin, as it is a dystopia somewhat reminiscent (although completely innovative and fresh) of 1984. I LOVED it. While Blind Assassin is my favorite, Oryx is an incredible, incredible accomplishment and very enjoyable to read.


message 7: by Aimee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:06PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aimee I agree with Tara 100%. I didn't love Blind assassin, only because I would get frustrated with the one story line and keep wanting more of the next.

The book within a book within a book strategy, while unique and interesting, can leave the reader tearing their hair out!


message 8: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:06PM) (new) - added it

Barbara Thanks for all the input. I am finding Blind Assassin a slower read. Possibly because of the book within a book concept. I'd like to try Alias Grace ad Oryx next.


Kathe (kathed) | 4 comments I'm a little late on this thread, but I've been browsing the Specific Books threads for ideas, and for anyone else doing the same thing, here's my two cents worth: I loved Blind Assassin because of the complexity of the multiple story lines. I specifically picked up the Handmaid's Tale because it was the same author but I found it too dystopian for my taste. (I also disliked 1984) Now, I'm waffling about whether to read any of the others, although I probably will try Cat's Eye only because it's on the 1001 list and available at my favorite used-book store. Hmm, maybe what is needed is a set of threads for specific authors...


Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments A separate thread for each important/favorite author sounds like such a good idea!

Thanks to all of you for your comments on Atwood books. I've never read her, and you've all helped me pick which one to read first! I think I'll start with Blind Assassin, but I'm still open to ideas.
I'm not up for a dark dystopia as a first read.


Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments I have never been a big fan of Atwood and was a little put off to find so many of her books on the list. The only book of hers that I've read thus far is Handmaid's Tale and I wasn't overly impressed by it. The writing seemed simple and the ideas rather unoriginal. Though I'm not sure if my distaste for it comes more from having so many of my friends falling over themselves to recommend it to me or if I didn't actually like it.

I've been toying with picking up Blind Assassin from the used bookstore near our house for the past several months and think that it's about time to take the plunge and give her another try.


message 12: by mara (last edited Feb 21, 2008 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
Courtney, Oryx and Crake is one of my favorite Atwood novels too. But I hated, hated Blind Assassin. I couldn't even finish it. All thoughout I kept wondering why I should care about this woman or her memories. I felt like I was visiting a retirement home and politely listening to a distant relative ramble on and wondering when nap time would come. I am a terrible person, for that analogy, I know.

How does it end? She commits suicide, right?

Edible Woman and Handmaid's Tale were boring at the time but were interesting when I thought about them later, if that makes sense.

Cat's Eye and Alias Grace were excellent reads for plot characters interesting characters. I just found the main character in Blind Assassin so dry! Now I wonder if I should try it again. Maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind

We should definitley set up posts for important authors or those who appear many times!


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy I guess mybe I should try Blind Assasin again as well. Loved Cat's Eye and and really loved Alias Grace.

I went to see Maragaret Atwood speak a few yrs ago here in Salt Lake and then stood in line (forever) to get my copy of Oryx and Crake autographed but then had the hardest time reading it. Maybe I should try it again too.


message 14: by Nora (new) - added it

Nora | 2 comments Mara,
All I can say is, I guess not every author is to everyone's taste. I loved, loved, loved Blind Assassin. At first I kept getting annoyed when she would launch into the science fiction story, but she does a really great job making things get very compelling. You just have to sort of buy into it, relax, I guess. I don't know. Maybe you won't enjoy it anyway but I'm not telling you what happens in case you decide to give it another go.


message 15: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara After reading Handmaid, which I loved, I picked up Blind Assassin and couldn't get into it at all. I like a book that grabs me at the start. Iknow that isn't always good since many books have slow beginnings.
I am currently reading an off the list book - The Other Boleyn Girl. I really am enjoying it. Since it a snow storm here in Jersey today, guess I'll get a lot of reading done :-)


message 16: by Amy (new)

Amy Me too, barbara. It's supposed to snow here today. Got the kiddos off to school and can't wait to sit down by the fire and read, read, red.


message 17: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma (elpryan) Logan - Popular opinion totally ruined The Fountainhead for me a few years ago, so I can see where you're coming from.

I've read Handmaid and Cat's Eye recently and enjoyed both, though Handmaid really left me thinking. The possibility of that kind of future could turn me into an active feminist yet. ;)


Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments So, could anyone suggest which of Atwood's books to read first? I've never read any of her work and feel way out of touch for not having done so already!


message 19: by Kristen (new) - added it

Kristen I have also been looking to read an Atwood novel! Great question!


message 20: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara I know some have mentioned they did not care for Handmaid's Tale, but I enjoyed that book a lot.
So that's my suggestion for a first Atwood read.


message 21: by Charity (new) - added it

Charity (charityross) I loved The Handmaid's Tale and would personally recommend it...as good a place to start as any...especially if you enjoy reading books about dystopian futures.

Other goodies that I have read by Atwood would include Surfacing and The Robber Bride. I can't speak for Atwood's other works (even though I have at least 5 unread works currently occupying my shelves), but I have always heard more good than bad commentary regarding Atwood's body of work.


message 22: by mara (last edited Feb 27, 2008 06:01AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
Handmaid's Tale was a good quick read but it made me lose all respect for feminists. They live in a fantasy world in which all political decisions and inventions are made solely to oppress them

It is kind of chilling though when you think about how similar that novel's world was to stories we hear of the oppression of Muslim women by fundamentalism.

Still, I don't get why people think it's so prescient. I've expressed that to old-school feminists and have been slapped with the most withering reactions though...


message 23: by Smarti (new)

Smarti | 46 comments Handmaid's Tale is the only Atwood book that I have read so far. Personally, I must say that I absolutely loved it. I enjoy dystopian visions in general, including Orwell and Huxley, so that might have helped.
Exactly like Mara I had to think about women's oppression by (muslim) fundamentalists. Recently, I wrote a paper about the Shar'ia law and my findings were indeed chilling to me.

All in all, I just though it was a great dystopian read with a feminine twist to it. I am not an "old-school feminist" but I do think that women's rights are important and frequently overlooked.

I will definetely read more Atwood books as I found this one very moving and evocative!


message 24: by Micki (new)

Micki Peluso (mickipeluso) | 1 comments I'd definitely read The Handmaid's Tale first. It's as much a classic as Animal Farm.

Micki


Laura | 68 comments I would suggest you to read Cat´s Eye, it´s wonderful. I hope you enjoy it.


message 26: by mara (last edited Feb 28, 2008 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
Did you all read about that law passed in Virginia that makes it a felony for a woman to cause a mistcarriage or to have a miscarriage and not report it to the police? Oh my god.

That's still a far cry from building an entire society around enslaving women to their reproductive roles, but still....


message 27: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate Judith and Kristen -

I loved the Handmaid's Tale, which was the first one of Atwood's that I had ever read. I was inspired to read it since part of the movied was filmed on my college campus (which should tell you how old I am). I was on a big scifi reading jag at the time, so it fit right into my mindset. It may be a tough starter for someone who isn't into dystopian literature or alternate future stuff, so maybe you'd like to start with The Penelopiad, which retells Odysseus from Penelope's point of view. It was kind of fun, as much as tales of blood, murder and betrayal can be!

Mara -
I'm a Virginia resident, so I'm pretty sure that law wasn't passed, merely proposed by one of the Commonwealth's finer guardians of society and morals - a quick turn through Westlaw doesn't bring up anything like that. We do have very strict abortion laws, so nothing is outside the realm of possibility here, but I hope we haven't gone quite that far.


message 28: by mara (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
It passed the Senate and passed the House.




message 29: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma (elpryan) Wow - That is scary. I'm interested in reading more about it since I'm wondering how that got around HIPAA (civil right to medical privacy), but it doesn't seem like a far leap to say that there will be a case where an accidental fall on some icy steps leads to a criminal charge.


message 30: by mara (last edited Mar 03, 2008 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

mara | 220 comments Mod
well how would anybody know right? My first thought was that this is a precurser to outlawing abortion by categorizing it "deliberate miscarrgiage" because right now it's easy to make the case that an abortion is simply that, a forced miscarriage.


Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Wow. So I finally finished The Blind Assassin and am ruing the time that I spent on it. I completely agree with Mara's post up above- who is this woman and why should I care about her memories? Her character is dull and dry and never undergoes any sort of substantive change and I grew tired of Atwood's overly simple style within the first twenty pages. It's been checked off of the 1001 list, which is about all the good I can say about this book.


For those who liked it: why? What about this book was good? Maybe if someone can explain it to me I can get some measure of worth from the three weeks I spent struggling through it.



Yelena Malcolm | 109 comments I don't know if I can be quite as critical as Logan, but I found the book to be uninteresting and somehow longer because of that. It wasn't so much that you knew what was going on before it was explained to you, and it wasn't even so much that the story was trite, it was that there was nothing added to make it anything more than the teleplay from a Lifetime Movie of the Week. It was the first book I had read by Atwood, and I'll certainly give her another chance; I wasn't put off by the book, just perplexed by its existence.


Chloe (countessofblooms) | 140 comments Yelena, I think the reason I am so confused/repulsed by this book is because it won the Booker Prize. Every other Booker winner that I've read has gone on to be one of my favorites. Even the short-listed Booker nominees are fantastic. How this one snuck by just confuses me and makes me irate. Was 2000 just a poor year for publishing?


Yelena Malcolm | 109 comments Logan, have you read The Sea????? :) Didn't that win the Booker? I agree, they generally have their wits about them, but I think they too suffer the occasional misstep. I've often wondered about the Booker prize. It seems that sometimes it has the same problem the Academy Awards has, namely failing to reward someone's truly magnificent work, and then, by way of apologizing, rewarding a later, less exceptional one.


message 35: by Judith (last edited May 09, 2008 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments I agree with you, again, Yelena. I haven't read The Sea, but I had concluded the same thing about Atwood's award.


Carolanne I am so glad I am not the only one that finds The Blind Assassin a lame duck! I was extremely disappointed and also confused on why its such a popular book! What a let down!


message 37: by Teddy (new) - added it

Teddy (teddyrose) I had never read an Atwood that I didn't love, until I read The Blind Assassin. It was only fair IMO. Glad I'm not the only one too.

BTW, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Teddy. I live in Vancouver BC Canada with my husband and dog-child. I'm a bookaholic but refuse to seek help for it. LOL!


Denise | 235 comments I loved the Blind Assassin. I remember thinking I had never before read such a perfect novel. I've read a lot of Atwood's work. I also loved Cat's Eye, Oryx and Crake and Alias Grace. I was extremely moved my Handmaid's Tale when it came out, but listened to it on tape recently and thought less of it. It's interesting to see other people have such different reactions. Maybe it's a matter of timing.


Eileen Anderson (eila) Atwood is my all time favorite author, and the thing I think is so great about her is that (generally speaking) each of her books is so drastically different from the others that I never know what I'm going to get. So if Handmaid's Tale or Oryx and Crake isn't your thing, Blind Assassin or The Robber Bride might be. I always learn something stylistic from her books, even when they flop for me personally (Alias Grace, The Penelopiad). My favorites besides HT are Blind Assassin and her short story collection, Bluebeard's Egg.


Jennifer (myfriendjenny) | 14 comments Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin are probably my two favorites by Atwood.

The only books by her that I have read and I didn't really care for were 'Surfacing' and 'Edible Woman'. I just could NOT get into them.


message 41: by Sharla (new)

Sharla (sharlashangeling) | 2 comments I loved the Blind Assassin. The exploration of meaning and deconstruction of forms of expression was brilliant. Atwood's use of the novel within a novel much like Shakespear used a Play within a Play... and the way different genres or leves of verisimiltude could be used to tease out the "truth" was fantastic.


- Sharla Shangeling Author of The Secret of The Sundance Caves.
Join the Secret of the Sundance Caves Group on Goodreads today!


message 42: by P. (new) - rated it 5 stars

P. (shimizusan) | 96 comments Sharla wrote: "I loved the Blind Assassin. The exploration of meaning and deconstruction of forms of expression was brilliant. Atwood's use of the novel within a novel much like Shakespear used a Play within a Pl..."

I loved this book. It's one of Atwoods best, closely followed by Oryx and Crake. This is a 'sphinx' of a novel. I love how effortlessly she intertwines the story of the sisters and the alternative universe of the assassin.

The 'play within the play' is a good way of putting it. In fact, this deserves a re-read. Could you imagine this being turned into a film? I would love to see the decadence of the period on silver screen. :)




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