Lady Oracle

Lady Oracle - Margaret Atwood [These notes were made in 1982:]. Although still contemptuous of Canadian literature in general (old habits die hard), I find I begin to appreciate certain particular authors, and Margaret Atwood is definitely one of them. She has the uncanny knack of making each of her novels seem autobiographical, which I suppose is merely another way of paying tribute to the convincing verisimilitude of her detail, exterior and interior. A good part of this particular novel hit home very hard, for it details the excruciating pain of growing up a fat adolescent. But beyond that, I can appreciate Atwood's structural inventiveness: here, the narrative is interspersed with fragments of Gothic romance (the heroine is a writer), which gradually verge toward the main plot, as the main plot becomes progressively more bizarre. Finally the heroine identifies herself with Felicia, the doomed wife in the Gothic story, and achieves a sort of catharsis through her, as the separate and fragmentary lives she has been leading - under separate names, some of them - collapse together. Finally, in a sort of ray of hope at the end, she is allowed to tell her whole story, and be the whole person instead of just one face. Yet, in a curious sleight-of-hand, Atwood both rounds out the story with this, and at the same time leaves the impression that it could be simply another episode in the episodic reality which is life (as opposed to the shaped reality which is fiction). It is both an entertaining and a substantial read, and I am heartily glad I picked it up.