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Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
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Surfacing (original 1972; edition 1973)

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

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4,3381102,722 (3.39)352
Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, "Surfacing" is the story of a talented woman artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Setting out with her lover and another young couple, she soon finds herself captivated by the isolated setting, where a marriage begins to fall apart, violence and death lurk just beneath the surface, and sex becomes a catalyst for conflict and dangerous choices. "Surfacing" is a work permeated with an aura of suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose. Here is a rich mine of ideas from an extraordinary writer about contemporary life and nature, families and marriage, and about women fragmented...and becoming whole.… (more)
Member:NancyJohn78
Title:Surfacing
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Simon and Schuster (1973), Edition: 1st Edition, 224 pages
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Surfacing by Margaret Atwood (1972)

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» See also 352 mentions

English (104)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
I was assigned this book back in school and didn’t have any idea what it was on about. Now, having lived through grief, loss, failed relationships and a few pregnancies, I find it speaks to me. The main character is so troubled, but in a “who would blame her?” Kind of way that you find yourself cheering for every advance.
This is, foremost, a love story of the Canadian wilderness, at risk of invasion from Americans, who spoil it all and who don’t respect it. It seems completely prescient as with many of Atwood’s books- I do wonder if she is a time-traveller from some wiser future…
Not a cheery book. Contemplative. High-residue. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.
Glad I reread it. ( )
  Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
This book was a tough read for me. The copy of the book I have made it sound like a real thriller! I thought I was going to get a mystery/thriller book from the almighty Margaret Atwood. Since I was expecting that, this book didn't sit well with me. It was not the mystery or thriller I hoped for, but rather a character study of going crazy in the woods looking for.... something.

I would have liked this book more if I had an English professor breaking down Atwood's incredible prose and storytelling. I'll be doing that myself now with a little research, but for what I thought it was... not as good. Because I went in with a synopsis that didn't reflect the book well, that leads to my two star ranking. The prose is good, but it just didn't keep me with it well.

Two out of five stars. ( )
  Briars_Reviews | Aug 4, 2023 |
A jagged work entered into awkwardly. Thankfully it gracefully unfurls into a masterful mysticism, allowing those strained moments of trauma that suddenly erupt within the prose to be steadily calmed and reintegrated into the spirit.

I was introduced to this work in Mark Fisher’s essay Inside Out: Outside In: which is a piece of writing I couldn’t recommend highly enough, he situates this book nicely in the fin-de-Sixties tradition of wishing to push outside the Symbolic Order to where only the dead belong. The father is lost in the woods, the tree cancer is approaching, and the man talking about American Pigs and free love is nothing but a mere husk who would rather treat sex as two detached appendages flying spasmodically into one another. Order is created by knives, Hitler can no longer be the measure of Evil, and the metallic American neoliberal ideal is slashing the psyche with its self-righteous, pedagogic claws. Where to go but to these leering woods that promise a language without words? To a primordial state of being that endows one with an immediate identity that multiplies yet sticks? To the bottom of the lake where essential truths lay concealed under jellyfish and refuse? Toward a personal god that proffers an indifferent absence one can subsist within?

Just do yourself a favour and read it. You won’t like it at first but you’ll soon be hooked, like a frog in a jar. ( )
  theoaustin | May 19, 2023 |
This was rather odd. Told in the first person we spend a lot of time in the narrators head and it is a very strange place to be. She remains un-named while we learn about her past and her present. She is at her parent's cabin, isolated on a lake in the Canadian North. It is miles from the nearest village and she grew up isolated by both location and language, the sole English speaking family in a French speaking area. She is seeking her father, who has gone missing in the wilderness. She thinks she discovers a code and wall art in some papers he has left, but finds no trace of him. With her are her current partner, and a couple who have their own, different, problems in their marriage.
It's not so much a coming to the surface as a descent into madness and we seem helpless as it happens. ( )
  Helenliz | Apr 11, 2023 |

I'm willing to work as hard as the next reader on deciphering cryptic passages and characters, but at least throw me a satisfying bone at the end for doing so.

Other than the actual prose itself, I really didn't enjoy reading this story at all. I felt the author really didn't do a good job at building the suspense even though she gave herself a lot to work with (missing father, strange companions, alone in the wilderness). I don't mind unlikable characters, which all of these were, but I have to care what happens to them . . .and I really didn't.

The story tells the tale of a woman (the narrator) whose father has gone missing. She returns with three friends, a married couple and a lover, to try to find her father who owned a home in the wilderness of Canada.

As the story progresses, the past of the narrator is revealed, and increasingly, her past infringes and dominates her present.

The plot premise was actually strong, but for me, the way the characters were developed was wholly unsatisfying. It felt like a self indulgent way to let Atwood show off her beautiful prose. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blais, Marie-ClaireAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
du Plessix Gray, FrancineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geeve, SallyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, GraemeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pulice, Mario J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyers, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I can't believe I'm on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease is spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have sea-planes for hire.
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His drowning never seemed to affect him as much as I thought it should, he couldn't even remember it. If it had happened to me I would have felt there was something special about me, to be raised from the dead like that; I would have returned with secrets, I would have known things most people didn't.
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Part detective novel, part psychological thriller, "Surfacing" is the story of a talented woman artist who goes in search of her missing father on a remote island in northern Quebec. Setting out with her lover and another young couple, she soon finds herself captivated by the isolated setting, where a marriage begins to fall apart, violence and death lurk just beneath the surface, and sex becomes a catalyst for conflict and dangerous choices. "Surfacing" is a work permeated with an aura of suspense, complex with layered meanings, and written in brilliant, diamond-sharp prose. Here is a rich mine of ideas from an extraordinary writer about contemporary life and nature, families and marriage, and about women fragmented...and becoming whole.

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