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Bluebeard's Egg - Terrafactive Armageddon

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June 12th, 2007


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07:49 am - Bluebeard's Egg
I just finished the short story collection Bluebeard's Egg, by Margaret Atwood. (Damn it, I keep typing "bluebird's egg" instead, so forgive me if there ends up being an instance I don't catch and correct.) I think the most interesting thing about the collection is a strange tendency toward cognitive dissonance that would overtake me at least once per story, when some detail of the character's lives unfamiliar to me would come up. It was usually something utterly normal, but something that I simply don't have any experience with.

An example, though not from the book, is how during a conversation this weekend, the practice of passing collection plate at church was raised, in the context of bank robbery - that is to say, the theoretical worth of attempting to "knock over" a church for the collections instead of some other commercial venue. When it was mentioned, the collections weren't specifically brought up; the church was just mentioned as a possible target. My first thought was "WTF? What use would that be?" and it took a minute or two more for me to remember that some/most congregations take collections the way AA does, by passing a container around the room. In contrast, the church in which I was inculcated uses different methodology to collect tithing. So this perfectly sensible conjecture that church == cash on hand was for a moment utterly mystifying to me.

That's the sort of thing I kept encountering in the BE stories. I'm as yet uncertain as to the provenience: is it Canada vs. US culture, for example, or is it something other from my somewhat straitened background. Maybe part of it is the tendency of her characters (here and elsewhere) to be having various extramarital affairs; something I have no trouble accepting as pretty common, but with which I have neither personal nor even vicarious experience. As someone with a somewhat spotty record of managing to instigate and successfully conduct a primary romance, I always find myself wondering where these lovers come from, how the affairs started, that sort of thing. It makes me think that life as an extrovert must be far different than I have ever managed to imagine. (Which isn't terribly surprising when you realize I test off the scale for introversion by the Kersey & Meyers-Briggs metrics.)
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