The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
“For The Handmaid’s Tale, the rule was that I wouldn’t put anything into it that people had not done at some time in some place. I brought them all together but each of the individual things had already been done by somebody at sometime,”
-Margaret Atwood as I sat 8 feet from her at Book Riot Live
And this is exactly what I've always loved about Atwood's work. So often it comes across to people as satire of a dystopia that we should be afraid of reaching. Too many people don't realize that... we're already there. In a work like The Handmaid's Tale, it's easy for the reader to write off the reality of the story when it's a narrative that doesn't appear to take place in modern times. But with The Heart Goes Last, Atwood forces her readers to take an honest look at the world in which they are currently living. To 16 year old Bear Allen, it seemed crazy that one day I'd be called Ofguy and would be seen solely as an incubator for a child. But that world doesn't seem so far removed when I'm reading about the latest right-wing politician who has decided that I have no control over the vacancy status of my uterus. The Heart Goes Last just emphasizes that reality given where in time it takes place. Real dolls exist that can look like any porn star, celebrity or next door neighbor you wish. Cults all over the world are telling their followers that they know what's best for them and will bring them back to a "simpler" time and remove all problems from their lives (I really need to stop reading about Scientology). People are having their basic civic rights stripped from them (if they ever even had them in the first place) on a daily basis. The Heart Goes Last might be the most terrifying of Atwood's works simply because so much of the world she created is recognizable as our own world.
And did I mention I had cocktails with Margaret Atwood? That's really the main take away from this review.
Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as"The Handmaid's Tale"and as richly imagined as"The Blind Assassin." Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes.
At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.