Friday, November 06, 2009

Canuck Book 3 - The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood

I'm sorry.

I know I said that I was going to spend this challenge rereading my favourite Canuck books but I can't resist. With new books by Atwood, Munro and Coupland not to mention the new Zoe Whittall book I want to read, I just can't keep that promise. I will get back to the rereading thing soon but for now you are going to have to put up with some new books.

And now onto the Atwood. . .

Um. . .

What can I say without gushing?

I remember first reading Atwood in university and how daunting a task that was. Here was this ultra-serious (by the look of her photos) woman with this almost ridiculously lofty reputation and I was faced with poems like "This is a Photograph of Me" and novels like The Edible Woman. Sure, I'd probably read The Handmaid's Tale at that point but that just kind of made things worse. I mean, did everything have to be so serious?

Late one night about that time, I remember watching the movie version of Surfacing on CBC. If you would have told me then that it was based on an Atwood book, I would have thought you were nuts. I mean, she is serious capital L literature. Not that the movie was a laugh riot or anything but it was just so strange, so absurd, that I wouldn't have been able to reconcile it with my vision of the great Atwood.

Turns out, she never really was that serious. Or she was but she also wasn't above seeing the humour in things. It's taken me a long time to get over that first faulty impression but I'm glad I have.

As for The Year of the Flood, I loved it. It is a companion piece to her last sci-fi novel (Oryx and Crake) and I found it worked really well. Whether she'll cop to it or not, Atwood does great sci-fi. Anyways, the esteemed Shelf Monkey does a far better job then I could of dispelling the myth that Atwood doesn't write sci-fi so I will leave it to him (

I was initially nervous about her inclusion of God's Gardeners Hymns and the sermons by Adam One. They definitely tiptoe the line between interesting device and overly cute distraction. As the novel progressed, though, I began to see it as a third narrative and, in that light, it worked well.

There's not much else I can say about it. If you have even a passing interest in sci-fi, you will probably love this book.

I initially planned to reread The Edible Woman for this challenge. Now, I'm going to reread Oryx and Crake instead.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm so glad to hear you say this about The Year of the Flood because I really want to like it, having really been swept up by Oryx and Crake.

I agree about the seemingly deadly seriousness of early Atwood and have been plesantly surprised by her homour in interviews. I am looking forward to reading this.

Remi said...

Yup. Sometimes it's drier than a desert but there is wit in a lot of what she does. Besides, her turn in goal (in full pads) on the Rick Mercer Report is almost as cool as Pierre Berton rolling a joint.

John Mutford said...

I loved Oryx & Crake and like Barb implied, I've been nervous to read this one (especially since some reviews I've read, while not negative, aren't overly gushing.)