I’ve been In the Middle of David Copperfield for a couple of weeks now, so I decided to take a break and read The Penelopiad, which I’ve been meaning to reread for a couple of years now. At some point, I owned a copy, but I guess it made it into a discard pile because I disliked it so much. I gave it two stars on Goodreads, back in the day, and I thought that was rather charitable. Why did I want to reread it, then, you ask? Because I love Margaret Atwood and The Odyssey, and I really thought I should like The Penelopiad. And I did like it a little better this time around. It’s just not Atwood’s best book.
You probably know the story of The Odyssey (or have easy access to a summary on Wikipedia), so I won’t rehash it. The Penelopiad is Penelope’s side of the story. She’s the one who marries Odysseus, then waits around faithfully while he’s off fighting in the Trojan War, then slooooooowly making his way home. If you haven’t read the whole Odyssey, you should probably do that now because it’s fantastic and totally worth it.
Which all means that The Penelopiad is the feminist end of The Odyssey. Margaret Atwood loves these kinds of things. I generally like these kinds of things. It’s just that she’s done better. A lot of this book is really good! It’s just there’s a lot of dumb, too, and it was frustrating. Atwood chose to tell the story from what might be Penelope’s contemporary perspective: she’s been in Hades since she died and has chosen not to have another life, though she’s watched others and has heard news of the living. And that’s all fine, except (spoiler alert? are there spoilers here?) at the end, there’s a really dumb modern-day courtroom scene in which Penelope’s maids, whom Odysseus killed along with the Suitors, prosecute Odysseus, then vow to haunt him for the rest of eternity. The scene itself was silly, I thought, and since it was kind of big and near the end, it tarnished my newly more positive view of the whole thing. That said, I liked it more than I did the first time around. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly nowhere near Atwood’s best.
I happened to run across The Penelopiad on a relatively new book subscription service called Oyster (That’s an invite link! We both win if you click on it and subscribe!). I’d tried the free month just before I got my iPad Mini and didn’t want to pay the $10/month subscription fee for a few reasons: 1) the full-size iPad is too heavy and awkward to use for reading, 2) Oyster is only available for iPad and iPhone and can’t be read in a browser, and 3) at that point, their book selection was a bit on the skimpy side. Two of the three have been solved: I got an iPad Mini, which is perfect for reading, and Oyster has expanded substantially. What put me over the subscription moneys edge, you ask? They just got Simon & Schuster! Which includes Hemingway, DeLillo, Fitzgerald, and lots of other authors I enjoy. Oyster now has enough of a selection for me to willingly shell out the $10. I’m really excited about it.
Anyway. Back to why I haven’t read David Copperfield. I’m not quite ready to add it to the Fail Pile, though I’m pretty sure that’s where it’s headed, because I’m really enjoying it. It’s just that now is not the time for a looooooong book because I’ve been busy! Palmer finally broke down and got me a PUPPY (which he oh-so-secretly wanted just about as badly as I did)! SO here is the Puppy Reel! (Okay, this isn’t a Puppy Reel. It was supposed to be a Flickr Slideshow, but Flickr still exists in the dark ages and slideshows won’t work on mobile. So here’s a Puppy Gallery, thanks to Flickr Photostream, an awesome WordPress plugin! And a link to the Flickr Set containing All the Puppy Photos.)
She’s the Cutest Thing Ever, though I’m pretty sure getting a puppy is like a sped-up version of parenthood. She has nicknames like Bitey McBiterson because she goes at most things teeth-first. She’s not quite eight weeks old, though, so I’m sure she’ll grow out of it.
The reason I had time to get 40-ish% into David Copperfield was that I had a break. Well, sort of: I went to a badly timed library conference in Columbia, South Carolina, on USC’s campus. I had a really nice time (and some great food!), but the whole time I was there, I was counting the minutes until I could come home to puppy, kittehs, and husband. Here’s a link to the photo set.
It’s so good to be home.