'The Blind Assassin,' Part III: The Trouble With Iris

There has been much chatter in our 1book140 discussions about unreliable narrators the past few days. And for good reason: We have not one, but three of them in Atwood's novel. But the third part of The Blind Assassin belongs, indelibly, to Iris. After the shifting sands of Parts I and II, in which any first-time reader struggled to gain a footing, Part III offers welcome, solid ground. As she wanders quietly through the town of Port Ticonderoga, Iris chronicles the rise and fall of the Chase family. In doing so she reveals herself to be an entirely unique, though not entirely likeable, literary creation. "For whom am I writing this?" wonders the aged and infirm Iris. "For myself? I think not. I have no picture of myself reading it over at a later time, later time having become problematical." With her acute observations, acerbic wit, and unsentimental reminiscences, Iris came to dominate the conversation this week. Here's a sampler:

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Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. More

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He previously worked as a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covered the media and entertainment industries. In June 2006 he published "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" in Wired. In September 2008 he published a book on the subject for Random House. The book has been translated into 11 languages. Before coming to Wired in 2001 he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his 20 years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

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