Sunday, 1 April 2012

Margaret Atwood - I'm Starved for You.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone more skilled at writing speculative fiction than Margaret Atwood, and she reigns supreme yet again with the provocative Kindle Single, I'm Starved for You. This dystopian fantasy takes you inside a social experiment called "Consilience," a preemptive strike against the chaos that will surely ensue if America's forty-percent unemployment rate remains unchecked. But how to come up with all those jobs? Simple: volunteer to go to prison. And don't fret if penitentiary orange is not your color. You will alternate between being a prisoner and being a prison employee, which means full-time employment for all, and ultimately "a future that will be more secure, more prosperous, and just all-round better because of [you]." That's right, you'll be a hero! But heroes are human too, and it's amazing how quickly controlled environments can get out of control when you add little things like lust to the mix. Atwood offers a saucy, sinister, and savvy social critique that, among other things, highlights the dangers of not listening to the voice in your head that says: This is "mealy-mouthed b.s."--Erin Kodicek

The gated community of Consilience isn’t your average American town, but in a near future imagined by bestselling author Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Year of the Flood”) it may be as close as anyone can hope to get.

Husband and wife Stan and Charmaine are among thousands who have signed up for a new social order because the old one is all but broken. Outside the walls of Consilience, half the country is out of work, gangs of the drug-addicted and disaffected menace the streets, warlords disrupt the food supply, and overcrowded correctional facilities churn out offenders to make room for more.

The Consilience prison, Positron, is something else altogether. The very heart of the community and its economic engine, it’s a bold experiment in voluntary incarceration. In exchange for a house, food, and what the online brochure hails as “A Meaningful Life,” residents agree to spend one month as inmates, the next as civilians, working as guards or whatever’s required.

Stan and Charmaine have no complaints—until the day Stan discovers an erotic note under the fridge of the house he and Charmaine must share with another couple while they’re back inside Positron. It’s a missive of erotic longing, pressed with a vivid lipstick kiss: “I’m starved for you!” it breathes. If Stan rarely thought about the house’s other residents before—they’ve never met them and don’t know their names; it’s not allowed—now he can’t stop thinking about them, especially the note’s sex-addled author, a woman apparently named Jasmine, so unlike his girlish wife, Charmaine. He HAS to meet her, but in this highly ordered and increasingly surveilled world, disorderly thoughts are a risk, and breaking the rules has dire consequences.

Margaret Atwood, one of the most prophetic authors of our time, delivers a tale of sexual obsession that is equal parts “Tom Jones” and “Brave New World.” A hilarious yet harrowing story that lays bare the very real dangers of trading liberty for safety, “I’m Starved for You” evokes the irrepressibility of human appetite and asks just how far a man and a woman are willing to go to get what they’re truly hungry for.


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