Iris Chase is almost the last surviving member of her family. Her sister Laura drove off a bridge shortly after World War II and afterwards achieved fame by a posthumously published book “The Blind Assassin” that details her affair with a man who tells her stories about an alien culture. While Iris pieces together her family history, we also get to read “The Blind Assassin.”
As much as I loved Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin missed its mark for me. Atwoods prose is still wonderful – that woman knows how to turn a phrase – but I just never got invested into Iris’ story.
I don’t know what was missing that I just never really connected with the book. Iris is a good character and her family is sufficiently screwed up to provide interesting stories for quite a while. But I just never really cared about her, or Laura for that matter.
That didn’t keep me from guessing the big twist about 300 pages before the end, which is also a bit frustrating.
I did enjoy the book in the book, though, and I wouldn’t have minded reading just that for the entire length of the book. It was a fascinating culture Atwood created for that story.
But the most outstanding thing about the book was definitely the prose. Like so:
Tell me where it hurts, she’d say. Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where.
But some people can’t tell where it hurts. They can’t calm down. They can’t ever stop howling.
Thus aerated, I sit at my wooden table, scratching away with my pen. No, not scratching — pens no longer scratch. The words roll smoothly and soundlessly enough across the page; it’s getting them to flow down the arm, it’s squeezing them out through the fingers, that is so difficult.
Summarising: worth reading for the prose and maybe you’ll connect with the story better than I did. Personally, I’ll try the next Atwood and hope I’ll like it better.