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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Salon: Book List Infographic

While I rarely agree with book lists (the best of, everyone should read, most popular, blah blah blah) I am a list junkie and find them simply fascinating.  Information is Beautiful did a really nice job with this cloud, using fifteen different lists to generate it.  The best part of it, to my mind, is that you can access the lists used via Google docs.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Anchor; first edition (March 30, 2004)
for mature readers
4/5 stars

When Oryx and Crake first opens, the reader meets the narrator (Snowman) and is immediately aware that there has been a disaster of gigantic proportions.  The information about Snowman's past and this event trickle slowly, through his reflections and memories, at first more tantalizing and mysterious than informational and explanatory.  By the time Oryx and Crake is finished, everything has become crystal clear for the reader, through a delightful process of hints, deductions and knowledge told outright, and then Atwood laughs at the self-satisfied reader with yet another conundrum as it ends.  If you have read The Handmaid's Tale then you are familiar with this particular delicious style of Atwood's.  Oryx and Crake delivers a fully satisfying, if often unsettling, reading experience.

Margaret Atwood
I can't say that I "enjoyed" all of the novel, as the pre-apocalyptic world of Oryx and Crake is one not so much an alternate reality but a possible future was unnerving to me. Kiddie porn sites and snuff films are common viewing material for even young teens.  The division between classes has become such that the elite live in guarded compounds which are like small cities.  Personal freedoms have been lost, or more accurately, cheerfully given up; scientific discovery, often frightening and unnatural, has become the most important advancement for society.  Probably the scariest part of the book is the close resemblance to our current society, and the question that poses of just how easy would it be to find ourselves in that situation, led their by the banner of "progress".

Oryx and Crake is a thrilling, terrifying and often uncomfortable read.  It is not for the faint of heart or apathetic of mind, but makes excellent material for much thought and discussion.