Review: Cat’s Eye

I love Margaret Atwood, partially because I read this book twenty years ago for the most Internet of reasons. My roommate had a bunch of quotes from it rotating in his .sig file and they were all great. I asked about it and he said it was good. So I read it. I re-read it recently.

I’ve never read a bad Atwood book, but in may ways this is still my favorite. I get the impression that most people think of her as the writer of A Handmaid’s Tale and think of her as exclusively writing books with a feminist message. I think she’s certainly written works that suit that to a tee and that she’s always writing from a woman’s perspective. Where I think A Handmaid’s Tale is focused on sounding an alarm, I think Cat’s Eye captures some of a life and the bruises one accumulates living it with compassion. No call to action, except perhaps a little understanding.

My roommate told me that after reading Cat’s Eye he thought anyone could tell her the story of their childhood and she’d understand. That’s probably the best review I’ve ever heard of it.

She’s writing about are from growing up female in rural Canada in the 50’s, but I always related with it. I understood this childhood, though I lived a different one. There are details that people of that time probably find familiar, but that I never found off-putting. One determined to find a feminist message in here won’t have any trouble, but I think a reasonable reading sees much more. No one here is exclusively a symbol.

And she’s Margaret Atwood. Practically every third sentence would make you stop short and admire its perfection if it weren’t so much a part of a stream of language telling an immersive story. A joy.

A must.

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