Friday, August 7, 2009

Talking about Oryx and Crake

My book club met last week to discuss Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. We had a good turnout and a good discussion. I was pleased to discover that most members enjoyed this book a lot - truthfully I was a bit surprised. The members that weren't crazy about it coincidentally also didn't care for The Time Traveler's Wife - they just don't really like books about alternate reality.



Oryx and Crake is a difficult book to describe. When people have asked me, I usually say something along the lines of "it's about an apocalyptic future, sort of an end of world scenario and how it became that way. There are bio-engineered animals...stuff like that." So, that tells you a lot, huh. Not really. Oryx and Crake is a book best discovered for yourself. It opens with a man called Snowman. He used to have a friend named Crake and loved an elusive woman known as Oryx. But Snowman is now alone as least as far as the human race goes and as far as he knows. The book goes on to detail Snowman's formative years and what life was like living in a futuristic compound with his scientist father. How did the world become this way and why is Snowman all alone? It is all there to be discovered.

This was my second reading of Oryx and Crake, and I think I got more out of the book this time around. Obviously, knowing the outcome,I wasn't so mystified by everything going on in the beginning of the book and I was able to enjoy the ride more. While this isn't my favorite Atwood, I still enjoyed this book very much. As always, I am fascinated by the workings of Margaret Atwood's mind. Her creativity and the way she expresses how she sees the world through her writing are second to none.

The timing of reading O&C turned out to be fortuitous. I now realize that Atwood's forthcoming book The Year of the Flood: A Novel takes place during the same or a similar period as O&C; I think this re-reading will help me to understand and appreciate it that much more.

17 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I've never read any of Atwood's work, but I'm really curious about it now.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I can't imagine not liking The Time Traveler's Wife! I only read one Atwood but it was certainly different. I would be interested in reading more, but I think you're right - they probably take a couple of readings to "get"!

Amy said...

It's great to hear your perspective on this particular book. I tried to read it twice but couldn't get into it. Maybe I need to give it another shot. I do enjoy Margaret Atwood's other novels. Maybe the third time will be a charm :)

Diane said...

Great review on this one. I've always wondered about it!

Bybee said...

I want to read this one for the Canadian Challenge 3.

Staci said...

I'm still scared though!!! I don't want to read it twice to understand it...but you do have me very curious and you know...Curiosity killed the cat!!! LOL!!

jennysbooks said...

Hm, interesting...you found yourself enjoying the book more when you knew what was coming? May I quote you on this when I am preaching the gospel of Reading the End First? :P

Can I ask, what's a good Atwood book to start with?

Ti said...

Atwood is a little out there for me but I still enjoy her books. I find that they are very "discussable" as far as book groups are concerned. I do want to read this one and her new one.

Danielle said...

I love Margaret Atwood, but after a binge of lots of her work when I was a bit younger, I've not read any of her more recent books--this one included--though I have it on my shelf. Maybe I should pull it out to read (I think I would like it) before her new one comes out as I'm looking forward to that one, too!

Heidi said...

I'm with jennysbooks what are good Atwood books to start with? I have not delved into this author yet and am looking forward to it. I have on my TBR pile the Blind Assasin and the Robber Bride.

Thomas said...

In my humble opinion, Robber Bride is a better one to start with than Blind Assasin. BA has a story within a story that I had trouble getting used to. I thought RB had fascinating characters and was much more linear. Oryx takes a tiny bit of effort to get into, but Atwood's brilliant writing really helps you get over the hump.

The first Atwood I ever read was in college in the late 80s--it was her first novel The Edible Woman written in 1969 (the year I was born). I loved it at the time, I couldn't put it down.

Tara said...

bermudaonion, she's one of my favorites.

rhapsodyinbooks, I know, me either. They're not all as complicated as this, believe me!

Amy, that's interesting. Did you like Handmaid's Tale - this is in a similar vein.

Diane, thanks!

Bybee, good choice!

Staci, you have a point. I read somewhere that Atwood doesn't consider this sci-fi - as these things are already happening, just on a smaller scale.

Jennysbooks, haha! I don't think that's usually the case for me, but Atwoods books are the sort you get more out of each time. What to start with? Not this! Ha. Seriously, I would start with one of her more mainstream books, such as Alias Grace or The Robber Bride. The Handmaid's Tale is shorter that many of her other books and is amazing.

Ti, our book club has read many by her, and like or dislike, there is always a lot to discuss.

Danielle, I'm that way with certain authors too. I'd love to read a review of this by you, that's for sure!

Heidi, The Blind Assassin is one of her more complicated books. The Robber Bride or Alias Grace are good books to start with.

Thomas, I agree with you, BA is quite complicated, though I loved the story within a story. I also think Alias Grace is a good starting point, esp if one enjoys historical fiction. Have you read that one? It was my first Atwood, before I knew anything about her, I just thought it sounded good.

Carrie K said...

MA always has fascinating ideas for books.

Hmm. I like alt history but Time Traveler's Wife struck me as icky. It was as if he was raising her to be his wife.

Bookfool said...

That is definitely an interesting coincidence. I've yet to read this, but I loved the Time Traveler's Wife and "alternate reality" doesn't bother me, so I'm hoping I'll love this one. I just heard about that prequel, yesterday.

Tara said...

Carrie K, I think so too. I see your point about TTW, but I loved it just the same.

Bookfool, they're nothing the same, the two books, but the coincidence was interesting. I hope you'll love this, too!

Jena said...

Oryx & Crake is a book I recommend to quite a few people. One of my favorite books of 2006, Loved it. Want to reread it.

Tara said...

Jena, you should reread it- I bet you'll love it more!