After I finish reading a book, I always go online and start trying to find what other readers (or critics) have written about it. That's sort of my go-to way of "discussing" my feelings with the rest of the reading world--the Internet as a book club.
Anyway, I finished The Handmaid's Tale on Wednesday night and yeah, it blew my mind. This is just an incredible book. Terrifying, gripping, wildly funny in places--but given the context, the kind of humor that makes you laugh out loud and then clamp your hand over your mouth because really, nothing in the book should be a laughing matter. Probably the best dystopian literature I've ever read. It also taught me the difference between Sci-Fi and speculative, at least as Margaret Atwood sees it: sci-fi involving technology and things that cannot exist in present day or the past; speculative being more of a "social science fiction" in which technology is existant or realistic but social structures are of the future. Atwood has said: "I made a rule for myself: I would not include anything that human beings had not already done in some other place or time, or for which the technology did not already exist. I did not wish to be accused of dark, twisted inventions, or of misrepresenting the human potential for deplorable behaviour." (Guardian article linked below) It's chilling that she found a precedent for all the details.
Once I finished, I dove into Googling and Goodreads-ing to find commentary. Then, in todays' YA Highway Field Trip Friday (which is the best part of a Friday morning, IMHO--well, aside from coffee and the promise of Friday night), there is a link to a piece in the Guardian by Margaret Atwood about the writing and reception of The Handmaid's Tale: Haunted by the Handmaid's Tale. Perfect timing! It's wonderful to get a chance to see what Atwood's experience as author of the book has been, and her thoughts on its creation and reception.
Have you read this one? What did you think?