It seems fitting that I should bookend a long lacuna with a post on swine flu on one end, and on the other, this excellent review
by Ursula Le Guin of Atwood's new
novel The Year of the Flood
in which much of the world's population has been done in by some mysterious disease. What I like about the review is the intelligent way Le Guin deals with Atwood's coy statements about genre, but more, the way it seems to me to do what a proper review of any decent work of fiction should do: it makes you not only want to read the work for its merits, but also engage with the reviewer's viewpoint. That's what reviewing is all about to my mind, an even-handed contribution to the collective map to works you might want to read, and a bonus conversation which hovers in the aether enveloping the work. I have a perverse relationship with Atwood's work, the result of extreme over-exposure at a tender age (Canadian Studies was coming into vogue when I was in high school, my BA was in Translation/Canadian Studies, my doctoral thesis took on women writing in Canada, -- I think there was a moment in the late 80s when I could have recited Surfacing
by heart.) so I often shilly-shally endlessly before reading her novels. But this time, with Le Guin's review to lure me, I think I may actually read it straight away.