Oyrx & Crake

Thoughts and Words…   Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, Nan A Talese/Doubleday 2003, 383 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:   I am in awe of Ms Atwood’s literary prowess.   I mooched this and decided it would fit nicely into the Twenty in Ten Challenge spot of TBR.

WHAT it’s ABOUT:   I keep hearing that song in my head  ♫ “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”  ♫   REM, I think?  “And I feel fine.”    (I feel fine because I loved this book.)   We start with a guy waking up in a tree.   He’s up in the tree so he can sleep without being eaten by the crazy animals (wolvogs, pigoons and snats OH MY!)  that just might want to tear his body apart for a snack.    The reader gets to be in his head as Jimmy aka Snowman reminisces.  We slowly learn through his memories what is going on and how the world got to be in such a sad scary state.     It’s a dystopian story of environmental degradation and then some; it’s speculative fiction and I loved it.

So why wasn’t this titled Snowman?    What or who is Oryx and what was up with this guy named Crake?   Answer:  Oryx and Crake are Jimmy’s best and only friends.

What I loved and what I disliked most are the very same thing!    Which shows me how powerful a story this truly is.   I was impatient for Oryx to come into play.    I was frustrated with Crake and his motivations.   I loved Jimmy’s desire to hang onto the words.  I loved the words!   Words, words, glorious words!!   But I had to look a lot of them up.    I was so fortunate to have a full and ample dictionary* in the classroom I was in on Monday when I read this.   I was fortunate that the computer assignment required me only to occasionally glance over the cherubs as they diligently created their reports.

I must be a fascinating (strange) substitute teacher because I was reading, chuckling, gasping, rummaging in the dictionary, etc – repeat – and then would take a quick break to walk the room and ‘spy’ on the student’s work to show I was ‘present and available.’

Atwood is so talented and creative.   I am looking forward to The Year of the Flood which is more of the same but different if I understand the premise of her latest release.   (Not a continuation/sequel but a parallel story line of the same time, right?)   I knew I needed to read O&C before I get tempted by that.

Does anyone have a suggestion for my next Atwood read? I have Alias Grace in house so I probably will chose that but can always be talked into most anything.     Just so you know;   I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in 2008, then devoured The Blind Assassin which was very different but just as incredible, and now O&C.

BACK to the WORDS!   Well, some of them.   I only wrote down the ones when I didn’t have that wonderful dictionary at my fingertips.
mantid – slender?   (mantis, like an insect?)
caecotroph – relates to the part of the digestive system of mammals
demiurge – being responsible for the creation of the universe
helot – a member of a class of serfs in ancient Sparta, intermediate in status between slaves and citizens.
poltroon – an utter coward
leman – a lover or sweetheart
queynt – an obsolete variant of quaint


“avoid pointless repinings”

“From now on he was going to be fancy-free, doing whatever he liked, picking globes of ripe life off the life trees, taking a bite or two, sucking out the juice, throwing away the rinds.”

“We are not here to play and dream, to drift;  we have hard work to do, loads to lift.”

Each one of us must tread the path laid out before him, or her, says the voice in his head, a man’s voice this time, the style bogus guru, and each path is unique.   It is not the nature of the path itself that should concern the seeker, but the grace and strength and patience with which each and every one of us follows the sometimes challenging…
“Stuff it, says Snowman.  Some cheap do-it-yourself enlightenment handbook, Nirvana for halfwits.   Though he has the nagging feeling that he may well have written this gem himself. “


I will offer this book to anyone who might want it and leaves me a comment using one of my words in a creative sentence.   I’ll pick a winner either by random or by ability to amuse me by April 9.

* is there anything much more frustrating than a dictionary that does not include the word you are looking for?!


Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

38 thoughts on “Oyrx & Crake

  1. This was definitely an interesting book (I have read it already, so I don’t want to win it). It was such a strange distopian society. I’m interested to read more of Atwood’s work. I’ve heard The Robber Bride is wonderful.

  2. I loved this book! Which reminds me, I need to reread it! I was disturbed by this and yet, couldn’t find it in me to stop! I absolutely have to reread this! That and I look forward to Year of the Flood as well 🙂

    Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors out there. Though I’ve read most of her books at least a decade ago (except for this one), I can still remember them. A lot. Alias Grace is a fine choice for your next Atwood read. It’s based on a true crime that I’m not familiar with, so Atwood’s fictionalized tale is worthy of reading time. The Robber Bride is also a good choice. My first Atwood is Cat’s Eye and it’s about the story of an artist who’s about to have a retrospective of her work. Gee, I can still remember the plot of her books to this day.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. I am glad to hear Atwood is in her usual, great shape!

    The solution to your dictionary problem may be the one I give my students when they want to look up brand-new words and phrases: try to google them.

    1. When I’m in the schools and the only dictionary seems to be written for a primary grader – and I don’t get access to a computer as a sub teacher… I’m not allowed to bring my laptop. I get extremely frustrated. Just sayin’.
      On my mac, the dict is pretty good and of course, I go to google or wordnik or urbandictionary… 🙂
      There’s something thrilling to the hunt when flipping pages of a good ol’ dictionary BOOK.

  4. The book looks really good! I have only read some of her poetry and the novel Blind Assassin. You may enjoy her poetry. Now, I am going to attempt to win the book. Here is my sentence using some of the new words.

    Perhaps, a leman created the universe. After all a poltroon could not possibly have courage to love truly and wouldn’t you need courage of love to be a demiurge?

  5. Please read The Edible Woman! It was Atwood’s first novel and I feel like no one ever reads it. The Robber Bride is also good, but then so is anything Atwood writes, so basically you can’t go wrong. 🙂

    I loved this book SO MUCH — I’m glad you liked it too!

  6. Well, she lost me at guy up in the tree hoping to not get eaten, but I’m not much of a dystopian end-o-the-world kind of gal (though I do like the REM song). Nice of you to be a good example to your students by modeling the many pleasures of reading!

  7. Now you have me thinking I should point to more (cough BETTER) reviews since I usually do a pisspoor job of telling people what a book is about. One thing I do like is that it’s presented so matter-of-factly. Atwood doesn’t tell you things are creepy she sucks you in real-subtle-like to the creepiness. If that makes any sense. ?

  8. Nice post! I wasn’t all that into The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m not jumping to read more Atwood any time soon, but your review caught my eye. I’m curious about these pigoons.

  9. She

    I am so glad you liked it, and I can’t wait to see what you think about Year of the Flood. It has been my favorite of the Atwoods 🙂

  10. I think it’s so cool when authors can invent really convincing worlds, as Atwood does in The Handmaid’s Tale and it sounds like in this one too. I expect it’s a thrill for her as well to play the demiurge with each new book.

    This is such a great review! I want to read this and The Blind Assassin sometime soon.

  11. I have The Year of the Flood but I want to read this one before I tackle that. Other than The Handmaid’s Tale, I’ve only read Life Before Man, but I don’t really remember anything about it.


  12. Great Review! Loved this book! It was the second Atwood Book I read, the first being The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m dying to get to The Blind Assassin. I sang the same REM song in my head as I read this book. It would be on the soundtrack for sure…if books had soundtracks that is.

    1. Don’t be shocked that Blind Assassin is more ‘normal’ – by which I mean, I was. hee hee. But it has its oh-wow!! moments and high creativity, too.

  13. Oh, oh, oh I LOVE Oryx and Crake! There’s a companion novel – The Year of the Flood – which is also awesome

    Alias Grace is excellent too 😀

  14. I can only take so much dystopia… but I adored Alias Grace! I heart Margaret Atwood. I have checked this book out a few times but haven’t been able to get into it… yet. Atwood always wins my heart in the end.

  15. I loved Oryx and Crake, and loved The Year of the Flood even more! You’ll find out about a few things you were probably curious about, like where Jimmy’s mother went…

  16. You know I’ve been deathly afraid of trying Margaret Atwood (yeah, I really am that big a poltroon!–but don’t enter me, I just couldn’t resist saying that anyway because I’m just pretty much a dork). I worry I’m not bright enough to understand her books. And while they all really do sound wonderful, this is the one that really, really tempts me to throw caution to the wind and risk confirming my fears. 😉

    1. Well. When you get around to reading something (anything) of Atwood’s, be sure to let me know. I think you will find it a pleasurable reading experience. You are most certainly BRIGHT enough. And if you have read an ASByatt, come tell me to get over MY intimidation of her, will ya?

  17. This one’s been on my radar for a while but I just have to be in the right mood for dystopian stuff. I mean, really, if you’re already feeling day, dystopian literature can just make you want to curl up in the fetal position. Love “poltroon;” I’m going to use that today!

    1. One thing so great about Atwood is that the mood is not actually ominous – she lets you create that in your own head and reaction but somehow doesn’t quite do it in the story. It’s just so matter-of-fact, here’s the life, woo hoo. and it amazes me (as I’m thinking “Oh.My. This could really happen.”)
      You will have to come back and write a sentence with poltroon – I won’t count this one! 😛

      1. Ha, ha! I wasn’t trying to sneak one by–I’m just wanting to use that word while I remember it. But how’s this:

        I’d like to tell you that I’ma leman, not a fighter but the truth is that I’m just a poltroon.

  18. Pingback: MaddAddam | Care's Online Book Club

Welcome! I invite you to comment. If for some reason commenting is troublesome, pls send email to BkClubCare [at] Gmail

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s