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date with Maddaddam

October 6, 2013
I’ve been hooked since last Tuesday after securing the hardback from Planet Books. This title blipped on my radar, but the actual shopping mission was youngest daughter’s birthday.
Serendipity, then.
I held off until Sunday morning for the fight finale (all-the-better to savour its crescendo). Alliterative wordplay, too: Paradice Project.
Where to start? Word revelry. Punning.
  • Face parsley
  • Sponge faced
  • Pig One
Luscious coruscating language. Enough to make you love Atwood without reading for plot or theme.

There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too (Atwood, 2013, p. 51).

This is meta-fiction, dear reader; cognisance of the writing honed to such precision that drawing attention to your own artistry elicits gasps of shock and pleasure both. How does she do it? I was agog to watch and learn.

Reminds me of the probably apocryphal tale of Picasso who supposedly dashed off a quick line drawing for someone in a park while sketching scenery. On being told it was beautiful and quizzed over its value, Picasso allegedly suggested $100 000.
But it took you mere moments, came the shocked response.
Only a lifetime.
Thank goodness the blurb carries no crowing that Atwood is at the height of her powers (though she is. And Greer’s comment on my likely to be discarded dust jacket proclaims “One of the most important writers in English today”. Unbelievable that she who wrought The Female Eunuch pebble-spat that).
But I digress.
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Cataloguing Maddaddam‘s delights and conundrums:
  • Cultish brands
  • Identity fluidity and renewal
  • Overblown consumerism
  • Power structures and struggles
  • Evil oppression by faceless corporate brokers
  • Environmental disaster
  • Genetics and bio-ethics
  • Gaming and online survival strategies (well, hacking)
  • Character regeneration and resurgence
  • Coincidences to rival Dickens
  • Religion and corruption
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Love story
  • Corruption
  • Redemption
Today was the showdown. Like this:
Our world recognisably bent into theirs. The gap is not so wide, no stretch too great.
Other texts embraced in Atwood’s lexical shadows include Brave New World, 1984 (proles to pleeblands), The Tempest, The Hunger Games (Painballers?), and of course, The Handmaid’s TaleOffred’s stream of consciousness a recorded document, a consecrated work, and one which I’ve spent hours exploring with students in Year 12 Literature classes.
Anyone else see similarities to Toby?
What joys in speculative fiction. Spot the differences between us and them. Not a lot, really, though the Crakers seem invested with our better human qualities, plus a few improvements of Atwood’s devising.
Creation myth.
Births, deaths and marriage.
Coda and salvation. Who would dare attempt what this novel scopes?
Form over function.
O brave new world that has such people in it (Huxley quoting Miranda, 1958, p. 129).
Wondrous school holiday reading pleasures.
Selected reference
Atwood, M. (2013). Maddaddam. London: Bloomsbury.
Huxley, A. (1958). Brave new world (reprint). Great Britain: Penguin.


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