"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 98
So what has everyone been reading lately? Thanks to last June's odd mix of Philippine literature and Plato's Dialogues, I've been feeling a little more critical of Philippine society and been adapting my reading accordingly. These days, I'm getting through more non-fiction than usual, the books which keep me the busiest being those which purport to answer the question "What's wrong with the world?"--though not including G.K. Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World. =P
I'm also feeling more tired than usual . . . not because of work, but because of life . . . and I almost decided to put off having another Book Club pick until September . . . before I realised that there happens to be a popular genre I do want to read with others right now, if you all are willing, too. That is, if Dystopian Fiction sounds good to you and you don't mind that my deadline for finishing the readalong is 30 September, please help me to choose from among the following two books by a critically acclaimed author . . .
The Handmaid's Tale vs. Oryx and Crake
Any Margaret Atwood fans in the house? I admit that I've never read anything by her (outside of casual browsing) and that I've stayed away from her stuff mostly out of habit. You see, back in uni, I had this "frenemy" who thought that Atwood was the bees' knees and kept encouraging me to read her novels. But I had already taken a bunch of recommendations from the "frenemy"--books and movies alike--only to have her mock the stuff that I suggested to her . . . and I'm sad to say that the pleasure of watching her sputter impotently every time I said that I was putting Atwood off again for some "lesser" writer totally outweighed anything that Atwood herself could have given me.
Since then, however, I have managed to forgive and to regret: that is, to forgive the "frenemy" and to regret that I've put off reading Atwood for so long. While I'm not crazy about feminist writing, I'm even less crazy about living in a literary ghetto. Bring on the
The Handmaid's Tale is probably Atwood's most famous novel and arguably already part of the Dystopian Fiction canon. I got to see a few disturbing scenes from the movie adaptation as a child, and it's thanks to one gory one in particular that I had my first experience of reading the book of Deuteronomy. (LOL!) Now, this may really shock you, but I'm kind of religious. And very traditional. No novel will ever get me to drop my beliefs, but I'm intrigued that every description of The Handmaid's Tale that I've read suggests that it was tailored precisely to challenge them.
Oryx and Crake was one of the "optional" novels in a Dystopian Fiction paper I took in uni--and I confess that I first thought it made the list only because of the School of English's not-so-secret quota for women writers. =P But good books are good books, no matter how they get tossed in our path, and I must admit that the theme of multinational corporations taking over the world and bungling the job taps into one of my top dystopian nightmares. I will have heaps to say about this novel, too!
You have a week to vote for the Atwood novel that you think would be the best "Two or Three" Book Club pick! Remember that voting doesn't obligate you to participate actively in the readalong. This is just one of those times when I like leaving the final choice to something other than my own fancies. Besides, taking a poll is more fun than flipping a coin! Don't you agree? =)
Image Sources: a) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, b) Oryx and Crake by Atwood