SURFACING by Margaret Atwood


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Themes of some of her poems -- a "universe. . . that survives only by devouring parts of itself," and man or woman as a lonely and primeval (often "furry") animal -- are all part of this novel which is as charged and delusional as the talented Edible Woman although her heroine, a young woman whose life becomes a repudiation of it, is far less appealing. She has reached a point of seeming no return where nothing exists except the memories which surface and which are as bitter as alum. . . of a mother who died of a tumor of the brain. . . a young brother who drowned. . . a married man she perhaps loved until she had to abort his child. . . a father she now attempts to find on an island in the north of Quebec. He has disappeared and actually he's as dead as the heron they find strung up by some predators. She is there with three others -- a young couple who have played desperate games of contention for nine years and a surly, physical man she cannot possibly love. They canoe, fish, look for her father's mapped rock painting. To complement and supplement her own voided existence, there is the wilderness threatened by "the Americans," by the "hospital or the zoo," and by all that confines, defaces or destroys. . . . Miss Atwood is a remarkable writer with a style that's clear and clean and close to the bone but since her heroine is so exempt from feeling, it still remains a kind of suicide chic even where she distances beyond those lost causes (the ecology, liberation, etc.) we consider fashionable.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1973
ISBN: 0385491050
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1973


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