Book Review: Payback

First off let’s clear up something, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood is not a personal finance book.  Rather it’s a book-sized essay on the nature of debt.

So even though I was expecting something a bit different I gave Margaret the benefit of a doubt and keep reading.  So for the first four chapters I read her rambling points in the hope that she would get to some excellent conclusion or insight that would make up for my stolen time in the early parts of the book.

The last chapter was called Payback and I was brutally disappointed.  She spends the first four chapters discussing financial debt mostly, with the odd side part into personal debts.  Then in the last chapter she goes onto this long-winded rant on our debt to the environment and the debt we collective owe it.

To say the book disappointed me is an understatement.  I found it a long winded, poorly thought out book that failed to really provide me one insight into the nature of debt that I didn’t already know.  Actually well reading the book I realized many of her themes she brings up in relation to debt is already covered well in a movie called Fight Club.

At least Fight Club is entertaining to learn that without a record there is no debt.  Hence the plan to blow up the credit card office buildings, because if they can’t prove you own it, you don’t have to pay.  In addition the movie does a damn good job of bring up the concept of your shadow self, which Margaret goes on and on over and yet doesn’t really make an good point with.

Overall the book sucked so badly I would suggest you avoid reading it.  Watch Flight Club instead and you would have learned more.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Payback”

  1. I too found the same from Payback, but then again, that’s Atwood. My English professor pointed out that she is so uncritically fawned over by the media that she could blow her nose into a handkerchief and it would get published.

  2. Funny about the handkerchief comment. I must say that I loved “Payback” – Attwood is a magnificent writer!

  3. Liz,

    Ha, that’s a funny comment!


    To each their own. I tried to give Payback a chance, but I just didn’t like it.


  4. My mother LOVES Attwood, but I find her unreadable (and I get the impression she’s a pretty unpleasant person, my mom’s feeling is she doesn’t suffer fools – maybe we’re both right).

    If I start a book I find it painful not to finish it, but I gave up on “The Handmaid’s Tale” (I couldn’t even stand the movie) and “The Edible Woman”.

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