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Currently reading

The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness
Pema Chödrön
River of Smoke: A Novel
Amitav Ghosh
Alif the Unseen
G. Willow Wilson
Half of a Yellow Sun
Taoist Qigong for Health and Vitality: A Complete Program of Movement, Meditation, and Healing Sounds
Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh
AyurVeda: The Science of Self-Healing
Medicine Buddha Teachings
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: The Spiritual Classic and International Bestseller
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green


Surfacing - Margaret Atwood I went into this thinking due to its size and that it was from so early in her work that it would likely be a very good but likely a slight read. Man was I ever wrong.This is a masterpiece of epic proportions. And while it is a slim volume, it is no single way slight. I still feel as if I am breathing hard - trying to catch my breath - after finishing it days ago. Simply, the only slightness about this mesmerizing novel is that which any other book would feel standing upright with it on a book shelf.It has the acuity and precision of a Raymond Carver story, but this is also most grandiose in it's undertaking. And I am quite at a loss at just how those two go together, but Atwood pulls it off miraculously. She makes this near impossible task look effortless (though I am sure quite a bit of effort went into this).This is a book about duality. Even the title suggests it: something below trying to climb upward, above.It is about the ties to family.It is about the forces of hyper-modernity in post-war western society. The past pulsates through the book so vibrantly you can sense it trying to regulate the present. There is also the resigned fight against this desire. Not so much via heartened desire, but through a sense of obligation.Every element has an opposite in this book. And in presenting them, Atwood directs the reader to an unsatisfying equilibrium, and then lets the reader choose a side to root for, knowing this balance will never hold. Does one root for she or he, water or land, city or rural, primal or civilized, etc etc... Needless to say, any side a reader chooses is equally as unsatisfying. And maybe more so, as Atwood no longer directs here. This is a choose your own adventure that has no happy results. The cynic in me allows that this makes this read for more true to life, makes the connections to the story and characters far more visceral and real. The budding optimist in me wants to change the surface level of the water in the cup, forcing everyone to note it is far more than just half full, diverting attention away from the incorruptible facts in the story.Needless to say, this is not a happy tale. But this is an extraordinary achievement in writing. I keep going back to passages and tracking the progression of the main surfacing alluded to in the title, as each page seems to buoy up more things to the surface, and from the first page Atwood most aptly begins positioning everything for this moment. Damn near each breath the characters take seems to fill a balloon with air to help drag into position this new world.I am in awe of this book. But I am more in awe that I never see it mentioned when people discuss Atwood. Her later books seems to engulf all the praise people can spare. And while it would be wrong to say her most memorable/grandest works are her dystopian warnings - her works fall into no single genre, they seem to get the most press (especially The Handmaid's Tale right now, quite sadly for all the wrong reasons). But I keep saying that while this book is no dystopian epic of societal collapse, it surely fits into a category of emotional dystopia (which after reading this is a section in a book store/library I'd like to see).I also found that this early work telegraphs so many themes and ideas she further develops in he later work. And while some of them seem to be complete thoughts here, she re-interrogates them in future books, where she may not come to the same conclusions, but you find her answers just as satisfying. Obviously, I can not recommend this book more. It will linger for a long time after you close the final pages, bobbing up and down, drifting from your unconscious thoughts to the surface of your conscious ones.Go. Read. Now.