Oryx and Crake AND The Professor and the Madman

Lots of words this week. Oryx and Crake was written by a poetic storyteller and painter of words. The Professor and the Madman is a thrilling story about creating the Oxford English Dictionary. One I loved, one not so much.

 


Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake

This is the first review of its kind for me. I *thought* Oryx and Crake was an apocalyptic story, and I guess it is. However, it’s written from one character’s view point; a man called Snowman. It was an uncomfortable read as Snowman talks about incest, sex trafficking, sex, and watching porn with his friends. The story drags on about his past memories and a girl named Oryx (she isn’t actually present in most of the book.) There are genetically engineered humans called Crakers, genetically modified pigs that regenerate human lungs, and dog-wolf and raccoon-skunk hybrids that all make this world so strange. Many confusing questions are finally answered in the last few chapters.
It’s just, far out there man. I didn’t get it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I wouldn’t recommend it. I finished the story because I felt obligated to share with my readers how much I didn’t like it. Margaret Atwood is very poetic in her writing. The story is very vivid, but it was just too far outside the box for my liking.

Simon Winchester – The Professor and the Madman

You guys! Don’t you just LOVE words? This book seriously surprised me. Simon Winchester did some solid research on the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. I didn’t expect to be so entertained by the story of Dr. W.C. Minor, an American Civil War Surgeon, who found himself deeply involved in the writings of the Oxford English Dictionary from inside a criminal lunatic asylum. The Professor and the Madman follows Professor James Murray and Dr. Minor through their life stories and how their lives entwined to make the very first English dictionary a success.

Okay, sure there were parts that I had to push through, but overall I was hooked. I’ve never stopped to consider the work required in the late 1800’s to define and create a book of 414,825 words. The Professor and the Madman is much more than just the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Winchester found a page-turning way to keep readers thrilled by following the crazy stories surrounding Dr. Minor. Such an impressive book, and I’m calling it a must read for those who just love the English language. (Also, if anyone wants to buy me a 20 volume set of the OED that would be okay!)

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