Saturday, June 7, 2014

First 50 (Friday) - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The First 50 Project is something that I made for myself to help me get through my backlog of books. I own over 200 books that I have not read, not including ebooks, but my first love is new books. In order to help reconcile my warring book lust and guilt, I came up with the First 50 Project. My goal is to read at least the first 50 pages of all 200+ books. Here is my latest First 50 Book:

The Blind Assassin

5. The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood
Nan A. Talese
Winner of the Man Booker Prize and Time Book of the Year.
*My paperback edition by Anchor Books was purchased from Borders.

First lines:
Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. The bridge was being repaired: she went right through the Danger sign. The car fell a hundred feet into the ravine, smashing through the treetops feathery with new leaves, then burst into flames and rolled down into the shallow creek at the bottom. 

Tragedy seems to follow Iris Griffin in the opening pages of Atwood's novel. A series of newspaper clippings chronicle the deaths of first her sister, then her husband a couple years later, then her niece in 1975. Interwoven with the clippings are excerpts from Laura's novel, published posthumously by her sister. Laura's novel, The Blind Assassin, seems to be the story of a man who is wooing a woman in secret through another story. It doesn't pick up Iris's story until 1998. She is an old woman, living alone, her writing shaky as she tries to put pen to paper to tell her story.

The first 50 pages are a bit of an enigma. We don't see enough of anything to get a real sense of it. Iris herself tells us she doesn't know why she has decided to sit down and write. But yet I didn't want to stop when I reached page 50, and I'm not sure why. The Iris storyline is just getting started. The world of the novel within the novel (within the novel?) is weird and somewhat off-putting with its science fiction landscape, buried cities, and vestal virgins, and the lovers have not been introduced enough to have personalities. 

It has been several weeks since I read the first 50 pages, and looking back I'm not sure why it was so compelling, but it was. I don't have a good sense yet of what the novel is like, and I know that I will have to read more to figure it out, and because it is Atwood, I am sure I will finish.


  1. It's going to take me months to read this one. I started it two months ago and still am not half way through. I keep picking it up, getting lost in the writing, and then have to put it down only not to return to it until I've read another book or two . . . I do want to finish it though.

    1. I think Atwood's book are better that way. I hope to get back to it once I finish The Goldfinch.
      On another note, maybe one day I will learn to hit reply the first time.

  2. I think Atwood's book are better that way. I hope to get back to it once I finish The Goldfinch.

  3. I do hope you pick it up again. It's a wonderful book