Book Notes: The Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Read Jun 27, 2020 - Jul 7, 2020

I enjoyed The Heart Goes Last, although I found it weaker than other Atwood novels.

This book is a fun satire, but not a deep one. The characters, and the world, feel like cartoonish cardboard cutouts, which makes them less compelling.

The book has a good deal of humor and incisive observations. The commentary about policing and prisons seems particularly relevant right now, with policing abolition entering the mainstream discourse.

Worth a read, but not a must-read.

Book highlights

Being upset is a warmer, close-up feeling, not a chilly distant feeling like laughing at people.

There is only so much manpower and tax revenue that can be devoted to riot control, to social surveillance, to chasing fast youths down dark alleyways, to fire-hosing and pepper-spraying suspicious-looking gatherings.

Competitiveness in the slave labour market was linked to the price of food, and Americans – who remain goodhearted despite everything, stray-puppy-rescuers every one – here Ed smiles indulgently, contemptuously – weren’t ready to starve their prisoners to death while working them to the bone.

And if every citizen were either a guard or a prisoner, the result would be full employment: half would be prisoners, the other half would be engaged in the business of tending the prisoners in some way or other.

Considering that the whole point of Consilience is for things to run smoothly, with happy citizens, or are they inmates? Both, to be honest. Because citizens were always a bit like inmates and inmates were always a bit like citizens, so Consilience and Positron have only made it official.

The past is so much safer, because whatever’s in it has already happened. It can’t be changed; so, in a way, there’s nothing to dread.

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