I’ve been reading Oryx and Crake for a couple of days now, and it’s becoming and increasingly tedious experience, and also, I am seriously starting to hate Atwood.
I mean, what it takes for a dystopia to work is the fear, the danger being real. That’s why 1984 works, that’s why Clockwork Orange works, that’s why Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale worked, too. All those dystopias have one thing in common – they are based on fears and dangers that are actually very very real, or at least very very plausible.
Oryx and Crake, however? It might just be me, but nothing, nothing could ever convince me that what basically comes down to eugenics becoming mainstream again could ever possibly happen. In fact, the very notion of eugenics becoming mainstream again is so ridiculous I am snorting disdainfully as I write this. I mean, even if it’s not called eugenics in the book, it’s eugenics. Eugenics, eugenics, eugenics.
Another thing is trying to shock the reader with the Ebol Internets. So wow, the internets has kiddie porn, big surprise (which of course, did not exist, not at all, no sir, before the advent of the internet – oh, wait, no, it did, what a surprise). And other sorts of porn, and other sorts of disgusting things, and of course, the internets makes you a worse, stupider person. Well, I beg to differ. Part of it is, I have in fact seen most of what the internets has to offer – save for kiddie porn, there are limits, ew ew ew- and surprise, surprise! I am still a well-adjusted, intelligent sentient being. Maybe a bit jaded, but, seeing the tub girl does that to you (please, don’t google it, it’s not worth it). So, well. If you want to shock your reader, and use porn, internet, and internet porn to do that? Probably means you’re just an old person. I’m sorry, but that’s it, really. A lot has changed since the sixties, wow.
Another thing that I find immensly irritating, perhaps even more so than the rest of it (because, seriously, what geek is not accustomed to non-geeks describing internets as a dangerous dangerous unsafe place? Noone, I think) is how she keeps writing women as delicate exotic flowers, hounded by neurosis after neurosis, helpless and bursting into tears at every opportunity. Women are usually writers, or at least artists of some sort, or at the very least a mother-godess-like type of mysteriously over-generously maladjusted person. A woman who is different – like the woman physicists in geeky t-shirts somewhere halfway into the book – are not real woman, or at least definetely portrayed as not being real women. This is just mind-boggling, because, hello, what year do we have? Tut-tut, 2009, and not 2009 Before Fucking Christ. I was clear to me from the start that Atwood’s women were basically one and the same person, wearing different disguises. But making the sort of divisions – between the real women, the special sensitive neurotic snowflakes, and the not-snowflakes, who are not women, or shouldn’t be, or possibly don’t exist, pick one, is just something so overly simplistic I don’t know whether I should be outraged or just laugh. In oryx and Crake, for instance, the female science students are being constantly compared to the female arts students and found not sufficiently girly, which means they are fake, unhappy and less human. WTF? Even though it’s written from a perspective of a man, who, by the way, is a complete arsehole, and I wanted him to die a painful death like, three pages into the book, there is just something, a nagging feeling in the back of your head that tells you there’s more to it than the creepy male perspective. I mean, she had to be able to think of it in the first place (and not, bringing Lolita into this is absolutely inappropriate).
Lastly, it’s always a pity to watch an author who is too old to keep up with reality, which is what I think is actually the case. I mean, she really does seem to be afraid of the internets. Internets, for goodness’ sake!
(That did turn out long, bwuh.)
(Yes, I am angry)
(Perhaps I should stop reading this book, after all)
(I think I know how it ends. It’s never good when I know how a book ends)
(Unless it’s how I want it to end, of course)