Literary Hub has an excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s new book The Heart Goes Last that she has annotated. I am very happy Atwood has a new book but I am also unsure about it. You see, I have already read a large portion of it over a year ago.
The book began as an experiment on Amazon in writing serial fiction. Every few months Atwood would publish a new chunk of the story for $1.99-$2.99. Things were going pretty well and then all of a sudden she stopped publishing them. I read perhaps 100-150 pages of the book and then was left hanging. Ok, I thought, I guess the serial thing wasn’t working out and she ended the project.
When I found out about The Heart Goes Last I was excited until I realized that it is the book she was publishing as a serial. I feel a little cheated. I mean, if I want to find out what happens I will have to buy the whole book after I have already bought the first third of the book. Seems a bit unfair, like perhaps I should get a discount for the part I have already paid for.
That’s only part of the trouble. When it was being published as a serial, it was not on a regular schedule of say, a chapter a month or fifty pages every six weeks. Part two came out about two months after the first part and the third part came out about four months after the second part. And then it was no more. The length of time between each volume made it hard to really get into the story. The premise was good but I wasn’t especially enjoying it and only bought and read each subsequent part because it was Margaret Atwood. I am having a hard time mustering up enthusiasm for the book.
Part of me thinks that reading it as a whole book and not as a serial will make a lot of difference. But as I think about what I have already read, I am surprised by just how much detail I can recall. So then I wonder whether she made any revisions to what was already published and if so, how might that affect rereading the first third of the book and continuing to the conclusion?
Until I actually read the book I can only speculate. But I am not in a hurry to read it and that leaves me feeling just a tiny bit disappointed. I am hoping that when other people start talking about it my disappointment will dissolve.
Now, briefly, about those annotations at Literary Hub. Atwood used a site called Genius. They have a section called Lit Genius. This site is dedicated to annotating literature. It is kind of interesting. Have any of you spent much time on it? I haven’t had a chance to explore other than a quick browse. I like the concept, but I wonder how useful and/or interesting it might be for readers other than students? Because it looks like most of what is there is aimed at students. I could be wrong. Still though, makes me really happy about the cool things the internet allows us to do.