Friday, October 17, 2008

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Weighing in at 521 pages, I find The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood hard to sum up in a short blog post. This is a product of my weakness as a writer/book review, not of the Ms. Atwood's wonderful book. Quite deserving of a prize like the Man Booker, this book defies genre. It has elements of historical fiction, science fiction, and even (if read with the right attitude) a mystery novel. It contains a book within a book within a book. Fantastic stuff!

The Blind Assassin tells the story of Iris and Laura Chase, heirs of a fallen depression era industrialist. The books starts with the Laura's suicide and the suspicious death of Iris' husband, Richard. We then read about the events that lead up to the two deaths, the story of Iris and Laura's childhood, the demise of their father's business during the depression, and the catastrophic marriage of Iris to Richard. At intervals, we read the story of the furtive affair between an unknown woman with an unknown man. Who are they? That is the mystery, although not really a difficult one to divine. During post-coital interludes, the unknown man tells the unknown woman an improvised science fiction story called the Blind Assassin. A book within a book within a book, because the narration of this affair is actually a novel written by Laura, called the Blind Assassin.

There is a lot that goes on in The Blind Assassin, and I found it a long slow read, but it is definitely worth it! I highly recommend it.


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