Thursday, January 7, 2010

Origin of the Species

Quite possibly my favourite sentence in the book:

" made him feel like some bumbling, cunt-addled oaf from an Atwood novel."

Aside from coining such an exquisite word, it's also the perfect distillation for the character of the story's main protagonist, Alex.  He really isn't very likable, but I guess that is beside the point.  The real question is, given the title of the book... does his character evolve?  Certainly not in an obvious way.  There is no third eye sprouting or sudden epiphany. A quick poll of 3 readers waiting to get the book signed was a unanimous 'no', but when I asked Ricci if Alex evolved in the story, he said yes. Who am I to argue with the author and Governor General award winner?

The story is told a bit out of sequence, with the Galapogos section spliced into the middle of the linear tale, which is an interesting placement that doesn't entirely work for me as a reader.  This was my pick for next week's BPYC Book Club, so it will be interesting to hear other reactions to how the story unfolds when we meet to discuss the book.

I enjoyed certain sections of the book, expecially:  ONE May 1986 and GALAPOGOS January 1980.  The last section, THREE April 1987 left me reading one or two pages at a time and very unsatisfied by the end of the story.

Alex' relationships to both men and women are fascinating.  He never seems at ease with anyone and is perpetually angry, competive and dismissive of his male friends and allies; alienating the women in his life.  I almost hope he doesn't follow through with his plane ticket to Sweden... stepping into his biological son's life after such a long absence.  Maybe his son will make him a better person.

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