Imagine a room. Eleven feet by eleven. Bed. Bath. Wardrobe. Table. Chair. Rocker. Stove. Television. No windows. Only Skylight. Door is locked. Always. Imagine this is your home. The only home you’ve ever known. Meet Jack. It’s his birthday. He’s five. Jack lives in Room with Ma. Jack has never been Outside. I’ve been meaning […]
Starting in 1947 The Night Watch tells the story, in reverse chronology, of various people in and around London during the Blitz. Their stories progress by going backwards in time, so that when we leave them they have it all to experience. Their loves and losses, the air raids and rations, these things are all […]
Our mother performed in starlight.
Ava Bigtree lives in Swamplandia! with her family. They wrestle alligators in front of tourists for a living. Until recently Ava’s mother Hillola was the star of the show, her moonlight swim through the gator pond was always a hit with the audience. But then she got sick, and died. And Grandpa Sawtooth has been taken to the old folk’s home. Tourist numbers are down, and things are only getting worse. Chief Bigtree, Ava’s father, goes off to the mainland on a business trip looking for investors, and Ava’s older brother Kiwi has abandoned the swamp, taking a job with the arch-enemy, The World of Darkness, a more modern and lucrative amusement park. And now Ava’s sister is dating ghosts.
Based on the true story of Grace Marks, an infamous murderer in Canada in the 1840’s, Atwood’s book uses different narrators to tell the story, as well as interspersing the story with extracts from other works. From poems, fiction, newspapers of the time, and other sources. Although this is based on the real story, Atwood has, of course, fictionalised a great deal of the novel.
The two narrators are Grace herself, who tells her story in the first person, past tense, and Simon Jordan, the doctor investigating her claims of insanity or innocence. His parts are told by a third person narrator, and are in the present tense.
Travelling: the dank oily days after Christmas. The motorway, its wastes looping London: the margin’s scrub-grass flaring orange in the lights, and the leaves of the poisoned shrubs striped yellow-green like a cantaloupe melon.