Things no one told me. 1)Margaret Atwood is great. 2)Margaret Atwood is a post-modernist. 3)Margaret Atwood gives David Mitchell a run for his money. All of the above were unbeknownst to be me...until now.
Atwood's The Blind Assassin tells the story, I think, of Iris Chase Griffen. But it's Iris's sister Laura Chase that retains most of my attention. Or at least, begs my attention.
Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.
Come on. She can't really start a novel with a sentence like that, can she? It's brilliant. Through the first 140 pages or so, Iris is telling us her life story in a way. Iris is now 80 years old and living on her own. She tells the story of her family's button factory and their strange tale of war, courtship, shell-shock, death and buttons. But intricately placed within this relatively common storytelling concept, Atwood has placed chapters of Laura's posthumously published novel, The Blind Assassin, as section breaks. Laura's Assassin narrative is about two unnamed lovers secretly meeting in rundown places to make love and tell stories. The unnamed man is telling the woman a story that I figure takes place in the future, or something of the sort. It's a bizarre story, but hell, it's enticing.
The more of Atwood I read, the more I look back on Mitchell's Cloud Atlas as an almost tame book. His sections were separate narratives stitched together with a sometimes obvious connection. Atwood doesn't explain herself like Mitchell does. She doesn't tie things up. At least not yet.