Oryx and Crake

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. Read by Campbell Scott.

Reason read: Atwood was born in the month of November. Also, I needed a book for the Portland Public Library reading challenge for the categories of speculative fiction and a book I have read before.

I need to condense the plot of Oryx and Crake for simplicity’s sake. There is a lot going on in this dystopia drama. Here is the shortest recap ever: Snowman was once a boy named Jimmy. He lived in a world dominated by bioengineering companies capable of creating new species of nonhuman lifeforms and genetic modifications for future humanoids. Jimmy befriends a boy named Glenn (who becomes Crake). During their pubescent years Jimmy and Crake spend an inordinate amount of time doing drugs, playing over the top violent video games, and watching live videos of murder, beastiality, and child pornography. This shapes Crake’s future invention of a health and happiness pill with an unadvertisized side effect of sterilization. Another result of this happiness pill is a lethal and extremely contagious global pandemic. When Jimmy goes to work for Crake he discovers a woman he recognizes from the porn videos he and Crake used to watch. Crake introduces her as Oryx and Jimmy becomes smitten. Does he dance with the devil? Yes, yes he does.

Confessional: I had completely forgotten how disturbing Oryx and Crake is.
Second confessional: I read Oryx and Crake while our world is still struggling with Covid-19. I couldn’t help but make comparisons to O&C.

Lines I liked, the phrase “turn memory into white noise” was the best.

Author fact: Atwood has called Oryx and Crake as romance. She is both brilliant and twisted.

Book trivia: Oryx and Crake is the first book in a trilogy. While this is a reread for me, I have not read the other two books in the series.

Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anthing specific about Oryx and Crake except to include it in the list of other dark and stormy novels.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “It was a Dark and Stormy Novel” (p 129).

Blackwater

Ekman, Kerstin. Blackwater. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Ekman’s Blackwater is possessive. It grabs you and you can’t put it down. It’s dark and gritty – peppered with angry scenes of violence and meaningless, lust driven sex. Like a maze with many twisting passages Blackwater has a community of dark stories to tell. Each tale is tangled with another and at the center, common to all, is a double murder. While everyone knows about it and is touched by it, no one can solve it for twenty years.
In the beginning Annie Raft follows a lover to Blackwater to his out-of-the-way commune. On her first day in town Annie stumbles across the murdered bodies of two tourists camping in the backwoods of Blackwater. For twenty years she is haunted by the face of the man she thinks did it until one day that face comes back in the form of her daughter’s newest boyfriend. The mystery, along with a whole host of secrets, start to unravel.
The landscape is such an important element in the novel I would have enjoyed a map, something that illustrates Annie getting lost in the forest, how far away from town the commune was, where the well was that Johan was tossed into in relation to where the murders took place, etc.

These are the really great lines: “The silence was violent after the noise of the cars” (p 10).
“He felt strangely empty inside, a green jumble of oblivion, and his skin felt licked by eyes” (p 136).
“You cannot live in the world without living off it” (p 177).
“She had lived a cautious and parched life” (p255).
“It had been an open question between them, whether you can see into your own darkness and whether it actually is your responsibility to do so. Or whether you evoke the darkness and make it into your own by toying with it” (p 422).

 

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter “Crime is a Globetrotter: Sweden” (p 59).