Book - 1998
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale

A provocative blend of literary mystery, psychological thriller, and spiritual journey, Surfacing is the story of an artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Accompanied by her boyfriend and a young married couple, the artist searches her abandoned childhood home for clues her parents may have left. But in the disorienting, transformative isolation of the wilderness, her friends' marriage begins to crumble, sex becomes a catalyst for conflict, and violence and death lurk just beneath the surface. As her relentless probing leads to an electrifying confrontation with her own suppressed secrets, she rapidly descends into what could be either madness or the starkest self-knowledge. Margaret Atwood's haunting masterpiece is permeated with suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1998
Edition: First Anchor books edition
ISBN: 9780385491051
Characteristics: 199 pages ; 21 cm


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Jul 13, 2018

The book was written in 1972, if I am not mistaken. Since then, it has written a lot of reviews, some of which are so linguistically twisted, that you will not understand anything. As they say, if you write pretentiously, mayby someone could consider you an intellectual.
I do not know how much the author's views remained the same as in the period of writing the book. Here anyone who destroys and treats animal world and nature , as its vassals, named Americans, strangers, enemies.
I liked some ideas of this book, but from the point of view of action, there is nothing significant happening in it.

gord_ma Jun 14, 2018

“Caught animals gnaw off their arms and legs to get free, could I do that” (186).
I first met—or shall I type—first encountered Margaret Atwood during York University’s 50-50 Symposium back in March 2009. I had RSVPed with the hope that I would learn a bit about the period when she was an instructor at York but moreso her perspective on the writer’s craft. I had read her and texts about her: the daughter of an entomologist, an avid reader of comic books and of “speculative fiction,” she became a star in the literary world, first as a poet and then as a novelist with the eyes of a scientist. Her voice and vision were distinct, stark, incisive, subversive, and often terrifying.
As I left my seat in search of a drink during the intermission, a voice called out to a woman seated across the aisle from me. I turned around and there was a older, ghostly pale woman, who seemed barely five feet in height or much shorter, and who had a smile on her face and glimmering eyes. This was the same person who wrote, [The Handmaid’s Tale], [Surfacing], and lines such as: “(I)f the Devil was allowed a tail and horns, God needed them also, they were advantages” (158). The conversation that ensued was jovial, harmonious, and human.
The point of that anecdote is to underline that all is not what they seem.
[Surfacing] is a deceptively short novel about a woman’s journey with her friends to the wilderness of northern Quebec to find her missing father. Except that this journey into her past will give her true self the opportunity to surface. Constant ruminations about her father’s disappearance and the possibility of meeting him on terrible terms give way to a deeper crisis: alienation.
To be blunt, the protagonist hates her big city “friends,” feels no connection with them, even on a species-level. Meanwhile, Atwood’s protagonist also hates big city life and the degradation it demands from her as a woman. Similarly, her return to the Quebec wilderness only reminded her of her own alienation from the locals and their culture, not only as an Anglophone in Francophone Quebec, but now as an Anglophone in a 1970s Quebec governed by Rene Levesque and his Parti Quebecois.
The ultimate fate of the father further alienates the protagonist, now, from her past, both actual and idealized. Lastly, the encroachment of humans into the wilderness of her childhood and the cruel hunting of its wildlife, especially by the very notion of shallow American hunters for sport proves to be the final straw: human civilization is a toxic sham and one’s only recourse is to live like animals.
Call it madness if you will or perhaps keepin’ it real in the bush, but sometimes when faced with modernity one has to do what one must to survive.
“When I go to the fence the footprints are there, side by side in the mud. My breath quickens, it was true, I saw it. But the prints are too small, they have toes; I place my feet in them and find that they are my own” (187).
All is not what they seem. Atwood has consistently gone on the record to state that while some elements of her childhood and of her family were replicated in [Surfacing], it was not an accurate representation of her life. She was not estranged from her father. She did not go nuts in the wilderness of Quebec while half-naked. Instead, it is the writer’s craft to use elements of real life to fashion a story that could be real but that tells a lesson reality can’t.
[Surfacing] is an example of Atwood’s talent: to teach us about ourselves and our world with sentences that scare us… a reaction that undoubtedly amuses her.

Dec 05, 2015

hard to follow. skipped from past to present without clue to change. sometimes change happened in same paragraph. there seemed to be no resolution or point


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