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Surfacing Paperback – June 1, 1998
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“Atwood has undertaken a serious and complex task. . . . She shows the depths that must be explored if one attempts to live an examined life.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable creation. . . . The most extraordinary metamorphosis in fiction since Kafka’s Gregor Samsa woke up as a giant insect.” —The Guardian
"Margaret Atwood is one of the most intelligent and talented writers to set herself the task of deciphering life in the late twentieth century." --Vogue
From the Inside Flap
- Publisher : Anchor; Reissue edition (June 1, 1998)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 199 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385491050
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385491051
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.14 x 0.51 x 7.97 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #319,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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So well written and personal, the story grapples with some tough realities in a collage of grim interaction peppered with sardonic comedy. In many respects, the main character remains lyrical in her trek to uncover her past and define her future. As is the case with Atwood's other novels, nothing is ever obvious nor telegraphed. Her writing always feels like you're the first one to ever take this journey with her.
Surfacing is about an unnamed woman who returns to her hometown in Canada. She is searching for her father in a cabin in the woods where she was raised. She is on this journey with her lover and another married couple. As the days progress, this woman finds herself returning to nature, in every sense of that word. She becomes primal, driven mad, as she returns to this original state. It's not happy book. It's heartbreaking and beautiful. There's a purity to her madness, to this return to nature as she slowly loses her friends, her family, her memories, her sense of self.
It's not a long novel at 208 pages. I finished it in a single day. Something about this novel pulled me in and I felt compelled to finish it in a day. It felt wrong to read this in anything larger than single sitting. As if I were betraying the novel, it's unnamed female protagonist. I needed to follow her on this journey, to see it to the end, to be done with it. I don't think I could ever read this work again. It's too intense, too heart-breaking.
This book is definitely worth reading, but it's not for everyone. I think you have to be in the mood for something like this, you have to want to read Atwood. And unless you've read a book by her, it's difficult to explain what this means. What it means to read an Atwood story or novel. Five stars.
Maybe it’s over my head.
might be just a metaphor for something. O my good thing was it was quick book to finish
I recently experienced this book as part of a library's book group discussion (although I first read it decades ago). In this recent discussion, there were a variety of responses as to the "main" themes of each reader. For myself I saw one prevailing theme (because it was a personal issue: MY prevailing theme). The director of the discussion saw a different theme that, to her, colored the narrative. It is certainly a very personal book to each reader.
I was also surprised (stunned) that many of the group did not appear that evening because (they said) they did not "get" the book, or they disliked it, or didn't finish it.
I have read mostly all of Atwood, but to me, this will always be her BEST and most COMPLEX offering.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 3, 2020