Wednesday, December 07, 2005


So we had book club last week--Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood, excellent choice. It was a lot of fun, but not as book-clubby as it might have been. We've drifted a little from talking about the book with the same depth we used to, but I'm not sure exactly how to fix that.


Also, no one else appears to have agreed with me in taking the revealed "solution" to the problem of Grace's identity at face value. The book presents a picture of some kind of multiple personality disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder, to those of use who still have a psych geek living in our souls). Thinking about my psychology education, her behavior and life story don't exactly jibe with how science records this, but as fiction, I bought it hook line and sinker. In reality, DID pretty much only ever arises from prolonged, severe sexual abuse at a very young age. And the "blackouts," periods where the main personality doesn't remember what happened because one of the others was busy using the body, (if I remember correctly) usually result in the person being missing time. But these technical details are not the kind of thing to cause a hiccup in my suspension of disbelief.

Thinking about it in the meeting, I could see that this explanation was much more pat than I would expect from her--much too tidy a solution that allowed you to feel much too certain of the moral conclusion of the story. But when I was reading, I was there with it. Jeremiah was the character through whose eyes I saw things, and I think he was surprised to find the demon in his friend.

Also and chiefly, Grace had nothing to gain by faking this. Most people thought it was an ambiguous question--was she faking, revealing the truth, was Mary Whitney lying? But why would anyone fake this? Why would she be one person outside of hypnosis and then, just at the moment when she might be freed, become another person?

Well, end of spoilers. I got the next book club pick (yay!) and I chose Never Let Me Go. I'm sure I've already mentioned this lovely book by Kazuo Ishiguro, and I generally lean away from picking something I've read, but I thought he would be better than Chris Bohjalian (so many to read: Trans-Sister Radio, Buffalo Soldiers, Before You Know Kindness) as a book club choice. I also liked that this was a book with a sci-fi premise, but not a sci fi plot or theme or feel. I've developed an interest in the intersection between traditional people and "genre" work--Liala and comics, for example, Katie and Young Adult fiction. And now, literati and a story that just might blow their minds.


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