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lgpiper

Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
Nevil Shute Norway
The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett
Obscure Destinies
Willa Cather
A Start in Life (The Michael Cullen Novels)
Alan Sillitoe
Mobilizing Web Sites: Strategies for Mobile Web Implementation
Kristofer Layon

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood Having read a bunch of books taking place in Australia recently, I figured I should find something that would tell me about Canada. Or at least by a Canadian. Then I thought about a Canadian author whose name I've heard often, but whose work I've never touched. Margaret Atwood. So I checked out her most famous work.

Well, this wasn't a book to tell me anything about Canada. As nearly as I can tell, the action, such as it is, takes place in and around Harvard Square. This is a tale of dystopian world in which a sort of mash-up of a Donald-Trump/Ted-Cruz world. The U.S. has been taken over by a rigid, highly theocratic group of people. Women aren't allowed to read. The higher level of women get to be wives of the "commanders". Ordinary women can become "marthas", which are essentially domestic servants, or "hand maidens", which are essentially attached to a commander's household for the purpose of child bearing. Sort of like the model of the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, who fathered children not only with their wives, but also with their wives' handmaidens.

Overall, it's a pretty ugly system. The protagonist, whose name we never know, handmaidens are only known by the names of their "commanders". In this case she is Offred, her commander being named Frederick, I believe it was. It seems that like most rigid societies, the rules apply only to the "small" people. So Offred gets involved, mostly against her will, in things she's not to be doing. If she's caught, all becomes her fault, not that of her "commander" or his wife, the people who made her do unlawful things.

Anyway, this is actually a good story, although not perhaps something one would choose to read while fighting with a case of strep throat. It also didn't do anything to help me learn about Canada, but it did a good job of exploring the dark side human ruling classes and the struggles the rest of us have in trying to maintain our humanity against said ruling classes.