This is just what the doctor ordered. Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin has damn near everything anyone could ever want in a novel. Then some!
If you like drama, you’ll like the frame story of Iris, a bilious octogenarian, fallen from grace and urgently writing her memoir before her heart gives out. If you like intrigue/romance, you’ll like the novel within the frame, a thinly-veiled roman à clef left behind by Iris’s sister, Laura, of her love affair with the chimerical fugitive, Alex. If you like sci-fi/fantasy, you’ll love the novel within Laura’s semi-autobiography called -wait for it- The Blind Assassin, a gruesome thriller about blood-thirsty zombies on the planet Zycron, which Alex thrashes out with her in ‘installments’, by far the layer I can’t get enough of: The depiction of how the children become blinded and evolve into assassins is where I first felt fully engaged in the novel.
The stories are as self-contained as they are inter-connected, and paced to perfection. The language is simple and unpretentious, though some of the imagery eludes me: ‘as bird feels shadow’ p.21 and ‘hurt like history’ p.56 left me cold and confused, they broke the spell. And some of the names are too on-the-nose. Ygnirods? Come on! And I can’t figure out why Alex is so hot for Laura. But it’s still early days.
I’m really enjoying The Blind Assassin so far; it is gourmet chips and chocolate.