Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale

Last night I finished The Handmaid's Tale. I wanted to read it because next month Hulu is going to be streaming a series based on the book.

I wasn't too surprised to find that out; the buzz among librarians is that there's been a huge upswing in patrons requesting the classics of the dystopian genre. Books like Handmaid, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are getting a new surge in readership. I guess because of our current political situation, there are a lot of people feeling disillusioned. This is just another example of how libraries can be a great support to people in need.

I'm excited to watch the show next month because it stars Elisabeth Moss as the the protagonist, Offred. Of course Moss is most well known now for her Mad Men character Peggy, and I think the same naivete that made us fall in love with that character, and share in her victories as she developed into a much stronger, dynamic presence on the show will work the same way for viewers of the series.

The text can be a little confusing at time because Offred's narration jumps from her present situation as a concubine/potential surrogate mother, to her time at the Red Center, where she learned the duties of handmaids, to the time before, when she had a husband and a daughter.

It's kind of fun to pick out the references to modern times: at an underground club, one of the women who works there is dressed in a black bodice with rabbit ears on, and Offred notices that one of the ears is 'broken', flopped halfway down (like the Playboy bunny symbol) so the reader assumes that this costume has somehow survived the raids and burnings, but it's been so long since women were permitted to display any sexuality that everyone has forgotten what it once meant.

It's like someone put Hawthorne's ` The Scarlet Letter in a blender, added a bottle of dystopia, and then mixed them together.

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