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Surfacing (Anglais) Broché – 29 mars 1979

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I can’t believe I’m on this road again, twisting along past the lake where the white birches are dying, the disease is spreading up from the south, and I notice they now have sea-planes for hire. But this is still near the city limits; we didn’t go through, it’s swelled enough to have a bypass, that’s success.
I never thought of it as a city but as the last or first outpost depending on which way we were going, an accumulation of sheds and boxes and one main street with a movie theatre, the itz, the oyal, red R burnt out, and two restaurants which served identical grey hamburger steaks plastered with mud gravy and canned peas, watery and pallid as fisheyes, and french fries bleary with lard. Order a poached egg, my mother said, you can tell if it’s fresh by the edges.
In one of those restaurants before I was born my brother got under the table and slid his hands up and down the waitress’s legs while she was bringing the food; it was during the war and she had on shiny orange rayon stockings, he’d never seen them before, my mother didn’t wear them. A different year there we ran through the snow across the sidewalk in our bare feet because we had no shoes,  they’d worn out during the summer. In the car that time we sat with our feet wrapped in blankets, pretending we were wounded. My brother said the Germans shot our feet off.
Now though I’m in another car, David’s and Anna’s; it’s sharp-finned and striped with chrome, a lumbering monster left over from ten years ago, he has to reach under the instrument panel to turn on the lights. David says they can’t afford a newer one, which probably isn’t true. He’s a good driver, I realize that, I keep my outside hand on the door in spite of it. To brace myself and so I can get out quickly if I have to. I’ve driven in the same car with them before but on this road it doesn’t seem right, either the three of them are in the wrong place or I am.
I’m in the back seat with the packsacks; this one, Joe, is sitting beside me chewing gum and holding my hand, they both pass the time. I examine the hand: the palm is broad, the short fingers tighten and relax, fiddling with my gold ring, turning it, it’s a reflex of his. He has peasant hands, I have peasant feet, Anna told us that. Everyone now can do a little magic, she reads hands at parties, she says it’s a substitute for conversation. When she did mine she said “Do you have a twin?” I said No. “Are you positive,” she said, “because some of your lines are double.” Her index finger traced me: “You had a good childhood but then there’s this funny break.” She puckered her forehead and I said I just wanted to know how long I was going to live, she could skip the rest. After that she told us Joe’s hands were dependable but not sensitive and I laughed, which was a mistake.
From the side he’s like the buffalo on the U.S. nickel, shaggy and blunt-snouted, with small clenched eyes and the defiant but insane look of a species once dominant, now threatened with extinction. That’s how he thinks of himself too: deposed, unjustly. Secretly he would like them to set up a kind of park for him, like a bird sanctuary. Beautiful Joe.
He feels me watching him and lets go of my hand. Then he takes his gum out, bundling it in the silver wrapper, and sticks it in the ashtray and crosses his arms. That means I’m not supposed to observe him; I face front.
In the first few hours of driving we moved through flattened cow-sprinkled hills and leaf trees and dead elm skeletons, then into the needle trees and the cuttings dynamited in pink and grey granite and the flimsy tourist cabins, and the signs saying GATEWAY TO THE NORTH, at least four towns claim to be that. The future is in the North, that was a political slogan once; when my father heard it he said there was nothing in the North but the past and not much of that either. Wherever he is now, dead or alive and nobody knows which, he’s no longer making epigrams. They have no right to get old. I envy people whose parents died when they were young, that’s easier to remember, they stay unchanged. I was sure mine would anyway, I could leave and return much later and everything would be the same. I thought of them as living in some other time, going about their own concerns closed safe behind a wall as translucent as jello, mammoths frozen in a glacier. All I would have to do was come back when I was ready but I kept putting it off, there would be too many explanations.
Now we’re passing the turnoff to the pit the Americans hollowed out. From here it looks like an innocent hill, spruce-covered, but the thick power lines running into the forest give it away. I heard they’d left, maybe that was a ruse, they could easily still be living in there, the generals in concrete bunkers and the ordinary soldiers in underground apartment buildings where the lights burn all the time. There’s no way of checking because we aren’t allowed in. The city invited them to stay, they were good for business, they drank a lot.
“That’s where the rockets are,” I say. Were. I don’t correct it.
David says “Bloody fascist pig Yanks,” as though he’s commenting on the weather.
Anna says nothing. Her head rests on the back of the seat, the ends of her light hair whipping in the draft from the side window  that won’t close properly. Earlier she was singing, House of the Rising Sun and Lili Marlene, both of them several times, trying to make her voice go throaty and deep; but it came out like a hoarse child’s. David turned on the radio, he couldn’t get anything, we were between stations. When she was in the middle of St. Louis Blues he began to whistle and she stopped. She’s my best friend, my best woman friend; I’ve known her two months.
I lean forward and say to David, “The bottle house is around this next curve and to the left,” and he nods and slows the car. I told them about it earlier, I guessed it was the kind of object that would interest them. They’re making a movie, Joe is doing the camera work, he’s never done it before but David says they’re the new Renaissance Men, you teach yourself what you need to learn. It was mostly David’s idea, he calls himself the director: they already have the credits worked out. He wants to get shots of things they come across, random samples he calls them, and that will be the name of the movie too: Random Samples. When they’ve used up their supply of film (which was all they could afford; and the camera is rented) they’re going to look at what they’ve collected and rearrange it.
“How can you tell what to put in if you don’t already know what it’s about?” I asked David when he was describing it. He gave me one of his initiate-to-novice stares. “If you close your mind in advance like that you wreck it. What you need is flow.” Anna, over by the stove measuring out the coffee, said everyone she knew was making a movie, and David said that was no fucking reason why he shouldn’t. She said “You’re right, sorry”; but she laughs about it behind his back, she calls it Random Pimples.
The bottle house is built of pop bottles cemented together with the bottoms facing out, green ones and brown ones in zig-zag patterns like the ones they taught us in school to draw on teepees; there’s a wall around it made of bottles too, arranged in letters so the brown ones spell BOTTLE VILLA.
“Neat,” David says, and they get out of the car with the camera. Anna and I climb out after them; we stretch our arms, and Anna has a cigarette. She’s wearing a purple tunic and white bellbottoms, they have a smear on them already, grease from the car. I told her she should wear jeans or something but she said she looks fat in them.
“Who made it, Christ, think of the work,” she says, but I don’t know anything about it except that it’s been there forever, the tangled black spruce swamp around it making it even more unlikely, a preposterous monument to some quirkish person exiled or perhaps a voluntary recluse like my father, choosing this swamp because it was the only place where he could fulfil his lifelong dream of living in a house of bottles. Inside the wall is an attempted lawn and a border with orange mattress-tuft marigolds.
“Great,” says David, “really neat,” and he puts his arm around Anna and hugs her briefly to show he’s pleased, as though she is somehow responsible for the Bottle Villa herself. We get back in the car.
I watch the side windows as though it’s a T.V. screen. There’s nothing I can remember till we reach the border, marked by the sign that says BIENVENUE on one side and WELCOME on the other. The sign has bullet holes in it, rusting red around the edges. It always did, in the fall the hunters use it for target practice; no matter how many times they replace it or paint it the bullet holes reappear, as though they aren’t put there but grow by a kind of inner logic or infection, like mould or boils. Joe wants to film the sign but David says “Naaa, what for?”
Now we’re on my home ground, foreign territory. My throat constricts, as it learned to do when I discovered people could say words that would go into my ears meaning nothing. To be deaf and dumb would be easier. The cards they poke at you when they want a quarter, with the hand alphabet on them. Even so, you would need to learn spelling.
The first smell is the mill, sawdust, there are mounds of it in the yard with the stacked timber slabs. The pulpwood go... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

“One of the most important novels of the twentieth century…utterly remarkable.”
New York Times Book Review

“Atwood probes emotions with X-ray precision. All in all, it’s an exhilarating performance.”
Globe and Mail

“A brilliant tour-de-force.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Atwood’s powers of observation are disconcertingly acute, combining an ear for the vernacular with an eye for the jugular.”

“The depth and complexity of Atwood’s critique of contemporary society are stunning.”

“It is excellent in so many ways that one cannot begin to do justice to it in a review. It has to be read and experienced.”
–Margaret Laurence, Quarry

“Margaret Atwood is one of the most intelligent and talented writers to set herself the task of deciphering life in the late twentieth century.”

“In this disturbing book, Margaret Atwood has written a fascinating, sometimes frightening novel about our Canadian landscape, about our paranoia, about what we are and what we are becoming.…Astonishing.”
Edmonton Journal

Surfacing is likely the best piece of fiction produced by Atwood’s generation in North America or anywhere.”
Canadian Forum

“[Atwood is] a superb storyteller who brings intelligence and wit to bear in a compelling personal vision.”
Toronto Star

“It is quite simply superb.…She writes with the ease of total acceptance, from right inside the culture, authenticating our experience, holding up a mirror so that the image we get back is not distorted by satire or made unreal by proselytizing…but real.”

“The sophistication of its telling, the power of observation and imagination make the book remarkable.…It’s a masterful encounter with the way we live now.”
Kingston Whig-Standard

From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Amazon.com: 85 commentaires
75 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Turn your analytical brain off and enjoy this 15 juin 2000
Par Nana Annie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Average of Three STARS? That is an indication that some reviewers don't 'get' this book.
This book, one of Atwood's earlier works, was written with a great deal of metaphor symbolism etched so skillfully into the content of the book, you may not realize that until you've reached the end, and have an "aha" experience, in some ways similar (though without the visual shock effect) to the way I felt at the end of watching Sixth Sense (the movie).
If you like Margaret Atwood, you will greatly enjoy seeing her young mind at work, as she shows us the unraveling mind of a young woman looking for something in the Canadian woods one week-end.
This book is effective and touching if you can move with it - but it isn't a linear-read. The missing plot and underdeveloped characters are not missing or underdeveloped at all -- read without that analytical side of the brain, and the treasures will 'surface'. Undo expectations and flow emotionally with it -- you won't be disappointed.
(my original paperback version has $1.50 marked on it!). The original version is falling apart, and I wanted to own another - glad to see it is still here (oh, my but look at the price now!)
37 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Entertaining, yet meaningful 7 juillet 2000
Par belladena - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I have a feeling that those who rated this book with three or less stars have no idea what the book is about. If you're searching for a bit of fluff, this is not the book to turn to. Although it isn't a difficult read, it also is not a shallow one. In fact, Margaret Atwood's searing and relentless eye for detail is in its earliest stages here. Any fan will appreciate _Surfacing_.
In _Surfacing_, Margaret Atwood addresses the issue of identity as reflected by the artifice around you - both in the people you know and the person you are instructed to become. Nothing in this book is what it seems, but rather, it is a clever facade meant to impart meaning to the reader.
The nameless narrator of _Surfacing_ engages in a deep journey into the wild bush of Northern Quebec, which becomes a metaphor for her process of recovering self and identity. The land is used as a backdrop for the renunciation of a distorted self-image. What this book ultimately does is provides us with insight into how we also function as individuals and just what is it that makes us who we are? Is each human being just a pastiche?
Atwood gives you four fascinating characters that are peeled apart to the core and, even though it is only the main protagonist that goes through a physical journey in finding herself, we also witness the psychic journeys of those around her and realize what it means to be a man, woman, artist, a mother, father, wife, husband, and sister. No role is left untouched.
_Surfacing_ is also a very entertaining book and can be read on many levels. Highly recommended!
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Surfacing? Sinking? Or sunk? 27 janvier 2002
Par Cipriano - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
On the exterior many lives are impetuously lived, in constant motion, constant flux, demanding change... while on the inside, important wheels have long since stopped turning. Crucial questions languish, not so much from being already answered as from never having been asked. Another type of person floats along fairly steady, and constant diversion is not really an issue... but on the inside, they are a whirligig. Always asking and re-asking, backpedalling, and here in the unseen realm the action is taking place, like a duck's feet underwater.
The nameless protagonist in Atwood's Surfacing is of this latter variety, contemplative and introspective. Together with three friends of the former type of personality (a married couple and her boyfriend Joe), these four drive off into the remote Quebec wilderness for a few days of R & R. This whirligig character however, has a far greater purpose in mind. She is returning here to her childhood home in search of her father who has mysteriously vanished without a trace. While these other three suntan, fish, and bicker, she is on a quest that calls forth a recollection of her entire upbringing and childhood. We sense that if she finds her father at all, it will be in a way that is as surprising to the reader as it will be to herself.
She's a great character. If it wasn't for her the others would seemingly starve to death, seated at the table and surrounded by victuals but unaware of how to prepare lunch. She's the organizer, the fish-filleter, the decision-maker... hourly explaining to her friends what will happen next. She is the individual who surfaces, thinks for herself, and finds an identity within. In stark contrast are her friends who seem to only find sustenance in the pieces they can bite off of each other and ingest.
As in so much of Atwood's work, these men are soon to reveal their inherent nasty dogness. On two occasions Whirligig avoids being (essentially) raped by each of them only by reminding them that it is "the right time" for her to get pregnant. But she is not a heroine without her own foibles. She realizes her own problems, the greatest of which may be her her inability to return the "love" that has been offered her throughout her life. Her detached coldness. But the importance in becoming whole (self-actualized?) may lie right there in this word "realizing", which, in the case of this novel MAY be synonymous with the word "surfacing". Throughout the book a central question seems to repeat itself... what does it mean to love? What if I don't "feel" love when someone says "I love you"? What does it mean to love one's past, one's history? To love your parents, your self... to love your lovers. And what does it mean to withdraw, to UTTERLY withdraw? These are the kind of meaty questions that surface in this book, brilliantly written and permeated with dark symbolism and a misty/ethereal 70's New-Ageyness to it. In Atwoodland, anything and everything can be a talisman.
"It's true, I am by myself; this is what I wanted, to stay here alone. From any rational point of view I am absurd; but there are are no longer any rational points of view." Is Whirligig sane or insane on the last page? Surfacing or submerged? The author leaves the verdict in the hands of the reader. I enjoyed reading it, and haven't yet set the gavel down.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Reunited with the personal self 15 novembre 2000
Par Luan Gaines - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
For me the essence of this novel is the journey undertaken by a young woman as she returns to her inner self. Coming home to the island wilderness of her youth in Quebec in search of her missing father, the young artist is accompanied by her lover and a vacuous married couple. All are her recent acquaintances in a life where she has buried many painful experiences subconsiously. Her true self begins to emerge as the remembered becomes familiar and compelling. She finds herself on a solitary journey and the people with her are an impediment to her awakening. She disappears from sight when they leave the island, confidant that she carries a pure new life from her companion-lover, Joe. Now, she is finished with him. Layer by layer, she begins to cleanse her psyche, finally uncovering the woman essential to the nurturing of her unborn child. There are multi-levels of awareness in this novel: progress, pollution, man's encroachment upon nature. Margaret Atwood offers much food for thought. But this book may not be for everyone. It doesn't seem at first as sophisticated as Atwood's later works. Personally, I find myself returning again and again to SURFACING, as if each time I am able to wear the skin of the young woman's discovery, surfacing myself.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
What lurks beneath the surface 22 avril 2004
Par A.J. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Margaret Atwood's "Surfacing" is a story about a woman connecting with her childhood, written in the context of her search for her missing father in the wilds of rural Quebec. The narrator, whose name is never revealed, is a commercial artist who lives in the city with her boyfriend Joe and is presently working on illustrations for a children's book. She has been summoned to her native village by a family friend who has reported to her that her father is missing, and, having no car of her own, she has persuaded Joe and her friends David and Anna, a married couple, to give her a ride and make a short summer vacation out of it.
Her childhood home, where her widowed father still lives, is a cabin on a wooded island in a lake near the village. The cabin is indeed empty, and the most significant clue she finds about her father's disappearance is a set of strange, indecipherable drawings on paper, apparently sketched by him recently. Did he go mad from self-isolation, or are these drawings a message of something more sinister? The narrator's quest seems to be motivated more by casual curiosity about what could have happened to him than by filial devotion or fear for his safety; she gives the impression of a woman whose capacity for love has been exhausted.
As might be expected, the four people on the island become entangled in a web of sexual tension. The narrator, herself divorced and the mother of a child whose fate is never made clear, contemplates her relationship with Joe, a struggling artist like her, who is almost morbidly quiet and becomes sullen when she refuses his request for marriage. Meanwhile, David and Anna's marriage is on a collision course. David, a capitalism-hating hippie who reflects the counterculture of the era in which the novel was written, is an obnoxious, slimy fellow who tries (unsuccessfully) to be funny by imitating cartoon characters yet continually intimidates Anna and makes a pass at the narrator in retribution for Anna's infidelity. Obviously, this is not a man with whom one would want to spend a week at a cabin.
Although "Surfacing" has the setup of a mystery novel, I feel obligated to say that anybody who reads it hoping for a conventional mystery will be disappointed. The novel uses a psychologically incisive modernist prose style and the spectral image of the narrator's missing father, whose spirit haunts the beautiful scenery like an invisible entity, silent but somehow watching, to achieve an effect that is ultimately cerebral and ominous. In the narrator's rather abrupt and almost maniacal transformation into a recluse, I was, oddly enough, reminded of Kafka's story "The Burrow," which invokes a similar aura of paranoia; here the narrator is making a final effort to protect herself, now that she no longer can rely on her father's protection, from the harmful effects of the world.
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