10 February 2011


My little brother and I are big ol' fans of Margaret Atwood's apocalyptic fiction. I read Oryx and Crake and lent it to him, he got The Year of the Flood for Christmas and lent it to me.

Years ago, I believe Oryx and Crake was intended to stand alone but now it is officially the first book in the MaddAddam Trilogy and that is a great thing because now we get a more detailed look into a well-developed future obsessed with science, violence and self-preservation from multiple viewpoints. I don't find that the two books depend on each other, they do, however, interact smoothly and compliment each other effectively.

"As the first heat hits, mist rises from among the swath of trees between her and the derelict city. The air smells faintly of burning, a smell of caramel and tar and rancid barbecues, and the ashy but greasy smell of a garbage-dump fire after it's been raining. The abandoned towers in the distance are like the coral of an ancient reef - bleached and colourless, devoid of life."

"His generation believed that if there was trouble all you'd have to do was shoot someone and then it would be okay."

"[S]he was dragging the cow bones into a pattern so big it could only be seen from above: huge capital letters, spelling out a word. Later she'd cover it in pancake syrup and wait until the insect life was all over it, and then take videos of it from the air, to put into galleries. She liked to watch things move and grow and then disappear."

"One day we'd seen a scaly girl running down the street in daytime, with a black-suited man chasing her. She sparkled a lot because of her shiny green scales; she'd kicked off her high heels and was running in her bare feet, dodging in a out among the people, but then she hit a patch of broken glass and fell. The man caught up with her and scooped her up, and carried her back to Scales with her green snakeskin arms dangling down. Her feet were bleeding. Whenever I thought of that, a chill went all through me, like watching someone else cut their finger."

"He handed me a chunk. I put it in my mouth. I found I could chew and swallow if I kept repeating in my head, "It's really bean paste, it's really bean paste..." I counted to a hundred, and then it was down. But I had the taste of rabbit in my mouth. It felt like I had eaten a nosebleed."

"Her story was that I'd been traumatized by being stuck in among the warped, brainwashing cult folk. I had no way of proving her wrong. Anyway maybe I had been traumatized: I had nothing to compare myself with."

"[T]hen I knew what the Gardeners meant when they said, Be careful what you write. There were my own words from the time when I was so happy, except that now it was torture to read them. I took the diary down the street and around the corner and shoved it into a garboil dumpster. It would turn into oil and then all those red hearts I'd drawn would go up in smoke, but at least they would be useful along the way."

"Too late for such a warning: Toby had already smelled something that came close to the aroma of the bone-stock soup her mother used to make. Though she was ashamed of herself, it made her hungry. Hungry, and also sad. Maybe sadness was a kind of hunger, she thought. Maybe the two went together."

"The whole signs-of-mortality thing. The whole thing thing. Nobody likes it, thought Toby - being a body, a thing. Nobody wants to be limited in that way. We'd rather have wings. Even the word flesh has a mushy sound to it."

Quotations from The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009. Cover image from Google Images.

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