Monday, May 31, 2010

Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
copyright 1988
Knopf Doubleday, paperback, 445 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385491020
very highly recommended, reread

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.
My Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite novels and it still resonates with me today as much as it did when I first read it. First and foremost, Margaret Atwood is an incredible writer. Her deft handling of and the richness found in her descriptions and narrative is exquisite. Cat's Eye is more than a novel about girl bullies - it transcends that simple description. It is about Elaine, an adult woman, taking an introspective look at her life and the impact her childhood played in her development as well as her feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. But Cat's Eye also covers these same feelings as experienced by Elaine as an adult. Cat's Eye is still one of my favorites.
Very Highly Recommended - reread


Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. If you can bend space you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backward in time and exist in two places at once.
It was my brother Stephen who told me that, when he wore his raveling maroon sweater to study in and spent a lot of time standing on his head so that the blood would run down into his brain and nourish it. I didn't understand what he meant, but maybe he didn't explain it very well. He was already moving away from the imprecision of words. opening

Lately I've caught myself humming out loud, or walking along the street with my mouth slightly open, drooling a little. Only a little; but it may be the thin edge of the wedge, the crack in the wall that will open, later, onto what? What vistas of shining eccentricity, or madness? pg. 6

I can feel my throat tightening, a pain along the jawline. I've started to chew my fingers again. There's blood, a taste I remember. It tastes of orange Popsicles, penny gumballs, red licorice, gnawed hair, dirty ice. pg. 9

Until we moved to Toronto I was happy. pg. 22

I want some friends, friends who will be girls. Girl friends. I know that these exist, having read about them in books, but I've never had any girl friends because I've never been in one place long enough. pg. 29

There are days when I can hardly make it out of bed. I find it an effort to speak. I measure progress in steps, the next one and the next one, as far as the bathroom. These steps are major accomplishments. I focus on taking the cap off the toothpaste, getting the brush up to my mouth. I have difficulty lifting my arm to do even that. I feel I am without worth, that nothing I can do is of any value. least of all to myself.
What do you have to say for yourself? Cordelia used to ask. Nothing, I would say. It is a word I came to connect with myself, as if I was nothing, as if there was nothing there at all. pg. 43

You can't wear pants to school, you have to wear skirts. pg. 48

I don't know what to say. I know the unspoken rules of boys, but with girls I sense that I am always on the verge of some unforeseen calamitous blunder. pg. 50

Also I don't like it that this is where paintings end up, on these neutral-toned walls with the track lighting, sterilized, rendered safe and acceptable. It's as if somebody's been around spraying the paintings with air freshener, to kill the smell. The smell of blood on the walls. pg. 90

Most mothers worry when their daughters reach adolescence, but I was the opposite. I relaxed, I sighed with relief. Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized. pg. 125

1 comment:

Max said...