Saturday, 28 March 2015

Book Review - Margaret Atwood: Oryx and Crake

The first in Margaret Atwood's dystopian trilogy, Oryx and Crake, centres around the protagonist Snowman (real name: Jimmy, real alias: The Abominable Snowman) and his exploration into the post-apocalyptic world he's found himself inhabiting, with only a dingy bed sheet to protect his modesty. Snowman's sole contact is with the primitive human-like creatures he calls Crakers, who bring him fish once a week, marvel at his 'second skin' and point, awestruck, at his watch. 

After seeing me reading in the library one college lunch time, my English teacher approached me and we spent twenty minutes swapping favourite genres and gushing over our most beloved authors. The next morning, she presented me with the first two novels in Atwood's trilogy - her doting squeals for dystopia barely decipherable. Despite the added pressure of holding the spine of someone else's delicate book in my hands, I soon found myself engrossed. 

Although the narrative maintains in Snowman's perspective throughout the novel, it experiences several time-shifts; from young Jimmy's first acquaintances with those who will later determine his fate - the fragile Oryx and the impenetrable brilliance of Crake - to older Jimmy's contemplation of the desolate landscape surrounding him and his realisation that he is quite possibly the last human on Earth. Despite the near-constant switching in perspective, the fast pace and forward momentum of the narrative keeps you absorbed, its secrets slowly revealed. 

The only real criticism I have of the novel is Atwood's lack of explanation of, and research into, the biotechnology that the plot of the novel revolves so heavily around. Science fiction books achieve their credibility from their readers through the plausibility of its science. Despite being a science fiction novel, Oryx and Crake had a significant absence of well-developed science fiction.

Nonetheless, Atwood retained my interest throughout, until I was hungrily demanding answers. Will Snowman fight starvation and injury to prevent an onslaught from the pigoons? Will he reveal how this biological disaster was spread to a global scale? And what lies behind the gates of the Pleeblands? 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Nineteen and a Half

Today marks the beginning of a new journey. A new relationship. A new commitment. After what feels like a lifetime of unhappiness with my body, I am embarking on a new, and scary, adventure. 


Thirty faces turned simultaneously to face me as Sophie introduced me to the group. "This is Beth, she's our newest member, everyone make her feel welcome." My face reddened as I took in the scene. The fruit basket placed in the centre of the table around which we all huddled. The cardboard cut-outs of smiling women, smugly adorning figure hugging dresses. The scales looming ominously in the corner of the church hall. 
The next hour was taken up by weight loss triumphs, weight gain commiserations and copious amounts of clapping, as all of them (us, I guess. I'm one of them now) shared calorie counting anecdotes of their week. My heart rate increased as I realised that I, too, would have to stand, legs shaking, in front of the crowd and share my experience next week. A room full of silently judging faces, all competing to be the thinnest. Even the congratulatory comments and encouragement didn't strike me as being wholly genuine. This was a competition and your supporters were also your rivals.

On the whole, I am extremely dissatisfied and often upset with my figure and my weight, but, I am aware that I am by no means obese and my weight is causing me no significant health risk. However, the most poignant thought that struck me since decided to join a weight loss programme, is that no one questioned my motives. No one in the group challenged my belonging to their circle. My family didn't question my decision to join. My boyfriend didn't try to dissuade me. I have known for quite a while that a change in my weight is necessary, but it's the ease at which those around me have accepted, and agreed to, it that has scared me and given me an added incentive to commit to a long-term weight loss plan.

So, here goes. I managed to persuade Sophie to lower my target weight to less than is considered healthy for my BMI (she even adjusted my height in order to cheat the system to appease my request). Thus, my aim is to lose nineteen and a half pounds. More than that though, my goal is to obtain a healthier lifestyle. To re-establish a positive relationship with food. To feel confident, sexy and thin. Wish me luck. 


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A Nervous Start

Hey there!

So, this is the part where I introduce myself and explain the purpose of creating this blog.

I'm Beth, I'm nineteen and I'm from England. The purpose of my blog is.. kind of abstract right now, in the sense that I have an idea of what I want to talk about, but whether that translates into reality is yet to be discovered.

I guess this is just a physical representation of me learning to express myself and ultimately, become more creative with writing. I have always had a passion for words; reading them, exploring them and writing them. However, as my fervour for language and literature increased, so did my anxiety to share any of my own creative efforts. This silly little blog marks the beginning of a new found desire and confidence to share my words and my reflections.

Expect posts relating to books, music and an exploration into the confusing corners of my psyche.

Even if you leave my blog after this post, just thank you. For reading this far. For giving me a shot.