Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Heart Goes Last - by Margaret Atwood

Like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale this is a brilliant piece of dystopian literature. The Heart Goes Last, however, is a bit lighter and more satirical. It tells the story of Stan and Charmaine who are living in their car until they find out about the Positron Project - an experimental community in which residents spend every other month living in prison, while their "alternates" live in their houses. There is no unemployment, and the "prisoners" are treated well and provided with good food. Stan and Charmaine start out adjusting to the life, and are glad to have a nice home for six months out of the year, but when Stan discovers that Charmaine is having an affair it sets off a chain of events that neither of them could have ever expected involving a plethora of Elvis impersonators, a knitted-blue-bear fetish, and chilling Stepford-esque experimentation.

Even dystopias have libraries. Positron has one but apparently it's picking are slim. During one of her trysts Charmaine and her paramour, Max, are so swept up in the passion we learn that
he couldn't wait, and because he couldn't neither could she. It was like the copy on the back of the most lurid novel in the limited-titles library at Positron. Swept away. Drugged with desire. Like a cyclone. Helpless moaning. All of that. She'd never known about such a force, such an energy inside herself. She'd thought it was only in books and TV, or else for other people.
Of course this one reference to the library had me questioning what kinds of books were being withheld from the good citizens of Positron. Clearly bodice-ripping sex was in, so what was out? We are left to ponder, as this was the only instance in which the library was mentioned.

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