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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Year Of The Flood

I needed a fix. Having exhausted my cache and spring gardening seeming very far away, I visited my local small town supplier. She said "we’re short as well." "Limited funds," she added. Where have I heard that tune before? I was standing in front of the new books section of the public library.

History and biography are my favorite books. On that day, I’d already read most of those choices on the shelf. A change of pace came to mind, so I began perusing the book jackets in the new novels section.

A "dystopian novel" one of the jackets said. This genre is not exactly the science fiction of monster robots and alien invaders. It’s more like bad dreams, projecting the ugliness of the present, into the nightmare of the future. Plausible speculation, as it were. 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange and similar classics came to mind. I took the book home.
Settled in my easy chair, I noted the title for the first time: The Year Of The Flood. The author was Margaret Atwood. That name finally rang a bell. She wrote the The Handmaid’s Tale.

That book was a classic. One of my all-time favorites. Sometimes, in blindly picking out a novel, you just have to get lucky. I was.
The social and environmental fabric of life on earth is falling apart. It’s a very different world yet entirely recognizable. The seeds of that future world are with us now. God’s Gardeners, who combine religion and science, and try to preserve all life, are predicting a human made disaster that will alter earth forever.

In rich and earthy prose and poetry, Atwood take us to a place that is dark and violent. Yet kind and thoughtful people are trying to hold back the march to human extinction. Can God’s Gardeners save humanity from the final precipice? A really good novel of this type melds a realistic present into an intolerable future. Atwood does that. There are no strawmen here. The very best ones also draw you in by reminding you that the present has some redeeming qualities. The author falls a little short there. Still if your brave and open minded enough to read about this not too distant world, I’d highly recommend it.

In the meantime, I think I’ll start going thru my seed catalogues to get ready for my gardening.


Sarah Laurence said...

That’s too bad about your library budget. Perhaps you could rally a fundraiser in your town.

That’s a good definition of dystopian novels. I loved the Handmaiden’s Tale and I’ve heard good things about The Year of the Flood. Thanks for the review!

Shady Gardener said...

You have provided a great review of the book... I'll have to jot the title and see what happens. Long ago I read 1984, The Child Buyer, and quite a number of others. (But, at the moment, I'm also looking towards Spring!) ;-)

Janie said...

I read Year of the Flood and really enjoyed it. Nice review!

sandy shoes said...

The Year of the Flood is on my must-read list... have you read Oryx and Crake, which came before it?

The Handmaid's Tale gave me nightmares...