(E-)Book Read! I’M STARVED FOR YOU by Margaret Atwood
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publication date: March 7, 2012
Original Language: English
Read in: English
Number of Pages: 42
Where From: Amazon Kindle
First sentence: “Stan opens the large green locker and stows away the clothes he’s been wearing: the shorts, the T-shirts, the jeans, the summer stuff.”
Last sentence: “Yours is the red one now.”
From GoodReads: The gated community of Consilience isn’t your average American town, but in a near future imagined by bestselling author Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Year of the Flood”) it may be as close as anyone can hope to get.
Husband and wife Stan and Charmaine are among thousands who have signed up for a new social order because the old one is all but broken. Outside the walls of Consilience, half the country is out of work, gangs of the drug-addicted and disaffected menace the streets, warlords disrupt the food supply, and overcrowded correctional facilities churn out offenders to make room for more.
The Consilience prison, Positron, is something else altogether. The very heart of the community and its economic engine, it’s a bold experiment in voluntary incarceration. In exchange for a house, food, and what the online brochure hails as “A Meaningful Life,” residents agree to spend one month as inmates, the next as civilians, working as guards or whatever’s required.
Stan and Charmaine have no complaints—until the day Stan discovers an erotic note under the fridge of the house he and Charmaine must share with another couple while they’re back inside Positron. It’s a missive of erotic longing, pressed with a vivid lipstick kiss: “I’m starved for you!” it breathes. If Stan rarely thought about the house’s other residents before—they’ve never met them and don’t know their names; it’s not allowed—now he can’t stop thinking about them, especially the note’s sex-addled author, a woman apparently named Jasmine, so unlike his girlish wife, Charmaine. He HAS to meet her, but in this highly ordered and increasingly surveilled world, disorderly thoughts are a risk, and breaking the rules has dire consequences.
In this short long story (or long short story), Atwood describes a community in a future that doesn’t seem that far away. The people in a town have been split up in two parts, and each of them spends alternatingly one month in prison and one month out. The reason for this is that by living like that, there exists no more unemployment, no more poverty (but also not wealth) and hunger. But, like with (almost) any system, there are downsides to it. Everyone’s life and actions are monitored carefully and one lives on a strict time schedule. Society decides where you’ll live and furnishes the houses without asking anything. So even when you are out of prison, you are not free at all.
When Stan finds a love note under the refrigerator in the house he lives in during his month out of prison, he begins fantasizing about this other woman and becomes obsessed by her. But things will not turn out as he expects.
This was a strong story as the community and the way of life seemed totally believable. It takes not that much fantasy to imagine a society that would be organized as Positron, and this set me thinking. Is it really possible that most of the people would give up their freedom, and even their lives, in order to get food, work and a place to sleep? When one has no worries in the world, it would be out of the question. But with all that is going on now in many countries in the world (Greece, Spain, …) I am afraid it could be possible.
I hope it will never come to this.
If you like dystopian novels, and/or Margaret Atwood, you have to read this.