Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Five (Part 10 – 12 Reaction)


For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Reading Parts 10-12

I’m struggling to write about this section without spoilers – there are a couple major developments, and, while rereading in preparation for this post, I had a new thought that kind of blew my mind, but I can’t talk about it yet! So I’m going to take a different approach.

I am such a loser when I read, I often laugh, cry, gasp, put my hand over my mouth, or on my cheek, Home Alone style. Here are a few of my visceral reactions to this section:

Shudder: I still think Chickie Nobs win the prize, but there were a very passages that gave me the heebie jeebies:

Soon, said the artists, ignoring him, there would be nothing left but a series of long subterranean tubes covering the surface of the planet…People would creep along through this tubing, single file, stark naked, their only view the asshole of the one before them in line, their urine and excrement flowing down through vents in the floor, until there were randomly selected by a digitized mechanism, at which point they would be sucked up into a side tunnel, ground up, and fed to the other through a series of nipple shaped appendages on the inside of the tube.

That’s a little too Human Centipede for me.

Cringe: When Jimmy uses his dad’s turns of phrase, I cringe so hard. And wince. I’m embarrassed for him. I don’t know if he’s still parodying his parents, but his audience is gone. To his girlfriend Amanda, who has presumably not met dear old dad:

“I could join the ranks of the permanently unemployed. Or, hey, I could go on being a kept man, like now. Joke! Joke! Don’t kill me!”

Eye roll: We get a good idea of Jimmy’s M.O. when it comes to women in this section. I’ve been with guys like Jimmy. I’ve had my heart broken by guys like Jimmy. And maddeningly, I sympathize with Jimmy. Damn it Atwood. But here, I’m giving him the eye roll of “bitch, please.” No one is excited to be dating (or sleeping with) a man-child.

One good thing, they never told him to grow up. He suspected they kind of liked it that he hadn’t.

Tears: Yeah, the boy missing his mommy stuff gets to me. I wrote “ouch” by this passage, where young Jimmy puts on his runaway mother’s dressing gown:

He could hardly breathe, he’d been suffocating with hatred, tears of hatred had been rolling down his cheeks. But he’d hugged his arms around himself all the same.

Her arms.

Ugh!: I felt like Jimmy should have been a little more annoyed than I was that he forgot the damn radio, after hearing a human voice for the first time in – who knows how long. Maybe it means he’s already given up.

Side-eye: I admit I only gave this passage the side-eye on second reading, but Crake is so full of shit, so fake-casual here, and Jimmy is so naive.

“I just came to see you. See if you were all right.”

“I’m alright,” said Jimmy.

Crake looked at him. “Let’s go to the pleeblands,” he said. “Troll a few bars.”

“This is a joke, right?” said Jimmy.

“No, really. I’ve got the passes. My regular one, and one for you.”

By which Jimmy knew that Crake really must be somebody. He was impressed. But much more than that, he was touched that Crake would experience concern for him, would come all this way to seek him out. Even thought they hadn’t been in close touch – Jimmy’s fault – Crake was still his friend.

Knowing how things go at the end of this section, this whole passage is just terrible.

Till next week! Check out the other read-along posts at Reading in Winter


  1. Kristilyn

    Gosh yes … Chickie Nobs! I felt really grossed out by that section … though, I think a lot of the food sections have grossed me out.

    Even though Jimmy is like the man-child, Snowman definitely isn’t. I think the episode at the end of this section forced him to grow up.

    I’ve noticed that Jimmy has always been kind of naive about Crake … and Crake seems to have been playing him for quite some time. I mean, I don’t see what Crake ever did to make him seem like a good, caring friend.

    I look forward to seeing your final thoughts!

    • lauratfrey

      That’s true. And maybe why his name had to change, to show the growth that happened, or was forced on him.

      That’s part of the “mind blowing” thing I referred to. On second reading, I think Crake had plans for Jimmy, and for Oryx, all along. Maybe since they first went to HottTotts, maybe even before that. I think he’s been pulling strings in ways we don’t understand yet.

  2. Rick @ AnotherBookBlog.com

    I feel like the “missing his mom” stuff a bit strange, given the fact that they didn’t appear to have a strong relationship at all (which, actually, has its own set of problems). She seemed a bit detached, in my opinion. But, then again, people have longing issues for terrible parents all the time, so who am I to judge. I just didn’t sympathize with him, I guess. (I’m also a little biased, having a distant father since I was about 12. I personally don’t feel the need to dwell on things like Jimmy does, but again, that’s my own bias.)

    • lauratfrey

      Well I think he struggles with it. He hates himself in the passage I quotes. I think Jimmy is a bit of a dweller, who has to suck it up and take action, finally, when he becomes Snowman

    • lauratfrey

      Yes, I’m reading lots of interviews lately, and she seems a little out there. But I guess when you’re Margaret f’ing Atwood you can be a weird as you want 🙂

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