Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bookish Thursday, Oryx and Crake

I stopped by the Portrait counter last night at Wal-mart to ask when our pictures would be ready for pick-up. She was just getting ready to call us! So we got to take our pictures home. They are so perfect and so precious. Ben had a great time for the whole photo shoot, smiling and laughing constantly. I feel very lucky. My boss's son only smiled for one picture this year.

I'm feeling kind of run down today, though I'm trying to snap out of it. I'm just glad it's almost the end of the week.

It's Bookish Thursday. Today I will expound on the book I'm currently listening to at home,
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

My history with this book is kind of painful. My ex-fiance had gotten me the book for Christmas a few years ago. I never got around to reading it, and when he dumped be (via voicemail), I through it out. Time and the love of a better man heals those kinds of wounds, though, and when I saw the title on the audiobook shelves at my local library, I picked it up.

It's a look into a plausible and horrific future, when science and technology have gone really badly and pretty much wiped out everybody on the planet. Snowman, the main character, is one of the anti-social survivors who apparently hid out while the population was expunged. The book skips back and forth from Snowman's present to his past, his troubled, chaotic youth which took place at some point in the early 21st century. He grew up in scientific, corporate compounds. His parents were scientists and researchers who worked on cutting edge technologies like genetic cloning, immortality, and innovative medicines.

The book chronicles Snowman's life as Jimmy, which was his name "before." Jimmy had a childhood friend named Glenn, who gave himself the moniker, Crake. This boy grew up to be a brilliant scientist who manipulated genes and characteristics with the greatest of ease. Jimmy stays in touch with Crake, even though he doesn't really understand all of what Crake is up to.

Atwood builds her story with layer upon layer of Jimmy's discoveries about the paths science and technology are taking. Jimmy's just trying to make a life for himself in this strange world, even though he's a word man, and not a math man. From conversations with people around him, readers are given bits of the pieces that make up the puzzle. Once completed, this puzzle will explain how Snowman became Snowman and how the world as he knew it ended so badly.

I'm not finished with it yet, and I'm enthralled. Jimmy and Snowman are sympathetic characters. Snowman is a man haunted by a past and encompassed by guilt and melancholy about how helpless he feels now and how he felt when everything was spiraling downward. Jimmy as a young man is a womanizer of a sort. He takes from women what he needs, and gives them what he needs to give them. He prefers the troubled women with tragic stories, because he seeks to soothe them. Eventually in every relationship, the woman usually realizes that Jimmy's not in it for the long haul, and it's true. Jimmy continues to be haunted by a young girl he saw in a disgusting online porno flick he saw as a teenager.

We learn that later in life, Jimmy finds this girl, who is named Oryx. This woman is an enigma to him. He's heard so many versions of what has happened in her life, he doesn't know what to believe. But he's in love with the ghost of her that has haunted him since his youth. When he finally finds her and lives with her, he's not too concerned with who she actually is, because he's created a meaning for her in his life already.

I'm only about halfway through. Some parts of the book feel like D&D (so says Chester), because it describes Snowman's foraging in a desolate wasteland that used to be the cities and communities that he lived in. That connotation would normally turn me off, but I trust Atwood to carry me through with her acerbic dry wit and extremely capable storytelling.