A Year in Reading: Lindsay Hunter

December 11, 2014 | 1 book mentioned 4 2 min read

coverI read The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time this summer. I’d never read any Margaret Atwood before that. I picked up a used hardcover at a bookstore in Philadelphia, and it sat around before I finally decided to take the plunge. I don’t know why I waited so long. It is perhaps the most moving book I’ve ever read. It is dark, funny, poignant, frightening. Margaret Atwood writes with such fierce poetry that I found myself running my fingers over the words, trying to absorb the book’s magic in every sense I could. It doesn’t happen often, that kind of magic. I saw a picture of Atwood writing it in Berlin, and it is just her at a table in an otherwise empty room. The novel’s magic is all her. It is quite the feminist novel, too, and what blows my mind is that it is almost 30 years old but feels as of the moment as I’m sure it did back then. Women are still fighting for their rights. We are still fighting for our personhood, for our right to total equality. We are still Offreds in many ways. When I finished the book I felt depressed for days, mourning the loss of such a gorgeous and enveloping companion.

coverThen, recently, I was given an advance copy of Laura van den Berg’s novel Find Me, out next year on FSG. It felt like the response to The Handmaid’s Tale’s call. The characters are very different, the worlds in which the novels are set are different, but the yearning of both characters, the driving grief, feels very much of a piece. Both novels offer precision of language and metaphor and scene even as what is being constructed feels messy, chaotic, sad, hopeless. Find Me’s joy is speaking in parallel with The Handmaid’s Tale’s Offred. Both orphaned and alone in the world, both so completely real, both telling a story that feels important and exciting to read. I feel lucky to have stumbled upon these books this year, and challenged by them to be better.

More from A Year in Reading 2014

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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is the author of the novel Ugly Girls and the story collections Don't Kiss Me and Daddy's. She lives in Chicago. Find her at lindsayhunter.com.


  1. THT is somewhat dated, IMHO, but still a neat example of Canadian resentment towards their more powerful neighbor where the police are not allowed to go through your celphone when they question you. I found the book to be alright until the last chapter, which is simply depressing, not for a vision of a post-Western future, but for the idea that academics of the 23rd century (or whenever) will think and talk in the same weasle language as they do today. A real downer.

    I remember watching the movie version on PRISM and HBO when I was a kid, and it went right over my head and sort of freaked me out. I asked myself, why is this movie so grim and self-important? Why’s it so huh-rumphy? Why are they doing that weird chair dance? It wasn’t until years later, that I realized the answer. Reagan.

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