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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
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Cat's Eye (original 1988; edition 1989)

by Margaret Atwood

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6,576106575 (3.94)1 / 446
Member:chamekke
Title:Cat's Eye
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Seal (1989), Edition: Seal ed, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (1988)

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English (102)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
like practice for the Blind Assassin.

no discernible storyline and nothing to really care about for me. as many reviewers have said on Goodreads, it’s beautifully written as all of Atwood’s books are but i did not care about the goings-on. i had no perspective from which to perch. it seemed like the random memories of someone in the retirement home or even on their deathbed but no clues about whether or not those kinds of frameworks were in play could be found.

maybe it’s partly due to the fact that i’m a male with childhood memories of boyhood friends and so forth and i can’t empathize or otherwise connect with what’s going on between the girls in their childhoods and lives. that kind of thing - being the “wrong” gender- has never stopped me before. i thoroughly enjoyed Atwood’s Moral Disorder about sisters and their lives. i cared about the people, found the situations interesting, and it delivered some deeper meaning to my head. the Blind Assassin was tolerable for me but i did not really care about the story or any of the characters, nor did i find it profound.

Cat's Eye really did seem like it was some kind of preliminary draft or test for the writing of Blind Assassin. very similar in what it was saying and the way it was saying it. BA did it better by providing a harmonizing framework interspersed with clues about the bigger picture in the form of newspaper clippings and commentary.

no, i did not like Cat’s Eye. i give it 2 stars for her poetic prose and being true to life not because it made me feel or think. i find myself saying this next thing very often but i think i say it with sincerity: maybe i’m just not able to see the genius in this?
( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
The narrator of this novel is a middle-aged artist, Elaine, who has returned to Toronto to attend a retrospective of her career. This triggers a series of long extended flashback sequences, in which she remembers her childhood in the city, particularly her friendship with three schoolfriends, one of whom was a cruel bully; but she also remembers her college years and her early years as an artist. That bullying schoolfriend, Cordelia, haunts Elaine, even in the present – although the tables did eventually turn, and while Elaine never bullied Cordelia to the extent she was bullied herself, Elaine does recount how Cordelia unravelled over the years and eventually ended up in a sanatorium. If Cordelia’s decline is signposted throughout the novel, then I missed most of it, though her fall as an ironic mirror image of Elaine’s rise to success did seem a little too obvious. Cat’s Eye was a surprisingly easy read, and if the early chapters, detailing Elaine’s childhood, were a little grim and hard to take in places, there was plenty more in the novel to balance them. Worth reading. ( )
  iansales | Feb 22, 2015 |
Six years ago, I read Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian [The Handmaid’s Tale]. When I undertook the reading, I knew how people characterized the story about Offred, a reprogrammed and enslaved surrogate; and I knew how people often characterized Atwood herself, in light of the book. Reviews and criticisms, whether scholarly or casual, are replete with gender politics. But reading [The Handmaid’s Tale], I was struck by Atwood’s examination of individual power struggles, both male and female, much more so than any power struggle between the sexes. Though the narrator and central character in the story is a female, the societal structure that Atwood erects highlights the enslavement of males and females to serve the ruling class. Atwood rather directs her keen eye at interpersonal power struggles, exposing the compromise necessary for survival and the resulting losses to the deeply held sense of identity. The review I wrote after finishing the book focused on a less feministic approach to understanding the story. The comments I received suggested that I’d missed the boat.

I wonder how many of the people who wrote comments about my misunderstanding have ever read the book that Atwood next published after [The Handmaid’s Tale] – [Cat’s Eye]. Like any book, if you go in expecting to support your expectations, you’ll find the evidence you seek. I suspect that many with a certain political slant with regard to gender are drawn to Atwood and [The Handmaid’s Tale]. But a deeper examination of that book along with [Cat’s Eye] undercut the notion that Atwood was writing from a particularly feminist slant.

With [Cat’s Eye], Atwood takes up the story of Elaine, a Canadian painter about to celebrate a retrospective about her work in a Toronto gallery. As the show approaches, Elaine reflects on her young life and the events that shaped her. The book is structured so that events in real time trigger memories for Elaine, carrying her back almost corporeally. She recounts the nomadic childhood at the hands of her entomologist father, her formative adolescence struggles to fit in, and the relationships she stumbles into as a young woman. One of the most cutting pieces of the story concerns Elaine’s dabbling in a feminist group when she begins her artistic career, and the later characterization of her paintings as feminist. Elaine reflects on set of paintings that features her mother first in an apron and then in slacks and a man’s jacket, the effect of which makes her seem as though she is vanishing and reappearing in a different, more masculine form. Elaine laments its reception as being a representation of the “Earth Goddess” or as a comment on female slavery or stereotyping. Really, the character explains, it’s about her mother’s personal dislike of housework. If you listen carefully, you can hear Atwood chastising a certain reading of [The Handmaid’s Tale].

After Elaine marries and has a child, things turn sour in the relationship. In a bid to establish some human connection, Elaine begins meeting with a local feminist group. Remembering the occasions, she realizes that she was uncomfortable, out of place. The theme is carried through to an interview before the retrospective when the reporter calls her a ‘feminist painter.’ Elaine responds, “I hate party lines. … I like that women like my work. Why shouldn’t I? … Not everyone likes my work. It’s not because I’m a woman. If they don’t like a man’s work, it’s not because he’s a man. They just don’t like it.” Can you hear Atwood preaching? There may be some empowering affect from the reading of Atwood’s stories for women, but it’s more complicated than relying simply on gender politics – it’s rooted more in identity: what forms it, what influences it, whether it is palatable or needs changing, and what sacrifice is required to maintain it. This is what Elaine is reminisces about throughout her story; and what Atwood seems more interested in during the phase of her life that produced [The Handmaid’s Tale] and [Cat’s Eye].

Bottom Line: A book much more about identity than about gender politics, similar to [The Handmaid’s Tale] before it.

4 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
2 vote blackdogbooks | Jan 18, 2015 |
An excellent read, although at times very disturbing and chilling. Elaine is a successful artist, who on returning to Toronto, her home from about age eight years to 30 years for an exhibition of her work, starts to look back on her life in Toronto.
We are given a description of idyllic early years with almost nomadic parents and an older brother until her Dad gets a job at the university in Toronto and they move there. Elaine makes friends locally and experiences dreadful bullying and this was the part I found particularly chilling.
It is a while since I had read any Margaret Atwood and I had forgotten just how brilliant an author she is. Her attention to detail and her ability to bring together a scene are fantastic. She takes us through over two decades of life in Toronto, within a school and family and an alternative community and does this very well. The reader is with Elaine every step of the way and this makes for an engrossing novel. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 17, 2014 |
Ever since reading The Handmaid's Tale, I have been scared--but anxious--to read more Atwood. I have a crippling fear that the next Atwood book I will read will be terrible, and my reasons for adoring and respecting her novels will be taken away from me. It's an irrational fear, but one that makes me nervous whenever I start a new novel of hers.

However, once I'm past page 3, I'm hooked, and love it.

Cat's Eye was no different. Although the novel is fiction, there are several bits of autobiographical truth to it. And that adds a layer of interest to the novel, but really what affects me is how much I can relate to the character. (And I'm not sure that's a good thing--but it is refreshing.)

Elaine, a painter (not an artist), must go back to her childhood home...and face her past. That SOUNDS about the cheesiest plot ever, right? But in true Atwood style, she draws the reader in, and doesn't let you go until the end.

A must read. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
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Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blaauw, Gerrit deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
When the Tukanas cut off her head, the old woman collected her own blood in her hands and blew it towards the sun. "My soul enters you, too!" she shouted. Since then anyone who kills receives in his body, without wanting or knowing it, the soul of his victim.
--Eduardo Galeano Memory of Fire: Genesis
Why do we remember the past, and not the future?
--Stephen W. Hawking A Brief History of Time
Dedication
This book is for S.
First words
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
Quotations
An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.
Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Controversial painter Elaine Risley vividly reflects on her childhood and teenage years. Her strongest memories are of Cordelia, who was the leader of a trio of girls who were both very cruel and very kind to young Elaine, in ways that tint Elaine's perceptions of relationships and her world—not to mention her art—into the character's middle years. The novel unfolds in Canada of the mid-20th century, from World War II to the late 1980s, and includes a look at many of the cultural elements of that time period, including feminism and various modern art movements.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385491026, Paperback)

Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat's Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

It is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to the city of her youth for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman--but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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