Recently, while on the phone with Edie, and after we had run through all the latest gossip, we chatted about what we were reading -- she mostly reads non-fiction, and I mostly read fiction -- both our interest perhaps left over from teaching school, but maybe not. It may be that the smarter people read non-fiction.
Anyway, I mentioned to her that I had just started Oryx and Crake (the first word of which I couldn't quite get my tongue around), and she said, "I started that book, but I think I put it down."
Me: I think I know why -- the opening scene has a guy named Snowman, sleeping in a tree, scratching his bug bites, and remarking that he is more naked than Adam. He's awakened by even more naked people, children, and then adults, also naked who bring him a fish wrapped in a lotus leaf.
Edie: Must have been why I put it down.
Me: I might not make it myself.
I did make it though, and all I can tell you is that I am not sure why. I don't enjoy dystopian literature for pleasure reading --- because, well, it's depressing and too thought provoking.
Who needs that in retirement?
Also, dystopian literature makes me think of teaching school. LOL
Literature teachers always loved the kind of novel that made students think about the future -- heck, we were always happy if we just got them to think.
Well, you know the kind of book -- everyone reads at least one while they are in high school, don't they?
Brave New World
The Time Machine
Harrison Bergeron (actually a short story)
Those kinds of books that students look up at you and say, while they are reading, "This book is weird."
Yeah, weird. That's Oryx and Crake.
As I was reading it, I was thinking -- I could use this in class (whoops, don't have one anymore) or Wingate could use this in Philosophy (oops, she's retired too) --but totally a book that could be discussed for its ethical, moral, and societal implications.
Is it the book for reading in a big, Adirondack chair on the deck?
Uh, no -- cause then, you have to think about it.
I chose to read this novel because Emily, a friend of mine's daughter who just graduated from UNC -- [remember our Lady Ga Ga discussion?], had just read it for one of her last literature classes for her English major.
I told her, "Man, I thought I had read everything by Margaret Atwood."
Emily: Apparently not.
As always, Atwood presents a good story -- full of well -developed characters, detailed settings, thoughtful, witty and ironic dialogue; she is no slouch.
Oryx and Crake - a scientifically, genetically altered future ---
-- outlandish but realistic, perhaps whacky, but enough of society's underlying current problems to ring true as a possible scenario for the future?
Let me pause here to say if we ever get this advanced, count me out.
In fact, I'd like to be part of the first blast.
I'm also good with being Raptured.
So, the novel begins in the world of Snowman. He lives in an environment that is the result of genetic engineering gone for a bad train ride.
Snowman searches for goods in a holocaust wasteland, where mutant wild animals hunt him, insects bite him, and periodically, he journeys back to a compound where it all went wrong.
As Snowman sets off on his quest to re-stock his dwindling supply -- the narrative shifts to Snowman's youth, about twenty years before, a time spent in self-indulgent pleasures, lack of human interaction, and a world already falling apart from within, and his inopportune meeting of a mad genius named Crake.
If you like this kind of stuff, have at it -- it's a good read, but if not, you're not missing anything that you haven't read before --- that is ...if you've read one of the above novels, but if you haven't -- then maybe.......you should have your first taste.