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{March 31, 2020}   Thinking of Margaret Atwood in Scary Times

Margaret Atwood Early Novels

My Margaret Atwood books

What better time to come back to blogging than these trying times? And who better to write about than Margaret Atwood? A Canadian Facebook friend, Sherry Galey, recently posted this, and I had to share it.

Margaret Atwood asks us to step back a bit and learn from history. Somehow she always finds a way to look at reality straight in the face, without sugar-coating, and still offer comfort and hope. (Globe and Mail today.)

In her book Payback she gathers ”the six reactions people had to the Black Death while it was unfolding. They were:

  1. Protect yourself.
  2. Give up and party, which could include drunkenness and theft.
  3. Help others.
  4. Blame. (Lepers, gypsies, witches and Jews were all blamed for spreading the plague.)
  5. Bear witness.
  6. Go about your life.

She says: “It’s not one or the other. I don’t suggest No. 2. Or No. 4 – giving up and blaming are not helpful – but protecting yourself, thereby helping others, or bearing witness by keeping a journal, or going about your life as much as you can with the aid of online support systems – these are possible now in a way that they were not in the 14th century.”

Also, an old friend recently sent me an email saying that he had binge-watched “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and also read the book. He was enthralled. He had never read Margaret Atwood before and asked me what other books of hers I would recommend. She has always been one of the first names that come to my mind when I am asked about my favorite authors. And yet, when he asked me that question, I wasn’t sure how to answer. I went to my bookcases. I realized that other than the fact that I had also watched the series with Elisabeth Moss (one of my favorite actresses of the last few years), which prompted me to buy “The Testaments,” all the Margaret Atwood books I owned were from early in her career.

Autographed copy of Bodily Harm

My Autographed Copy of Bodily Harm

This led me down my own rabbit hole (as it usually does). I remembered that I had gone to see Margaret read many years ago and had a book signed by her (not one of her most memorable ones). That also reminded me that when I saw her read, I had written a poem about it. Not a good one, but hey, I was only 23 years old! I went to Atwood’s reading and then went out to a club to see one of my favorite local bands, The Peter Dayton Band. The two sides of me…

Poem about Margaret Atwood's reading

A poem about Margaret Atwood’s reading

 

 

 

 

The first book of hers that I read was “Surfacing” in a Contemporary Literature class as an undergraduate in college. I liked it enough to search out earlier works. As I became more interested in poetry, I read her poetry and was quite taken by it. Especially this one from “Power Politics,”

you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye

Wow!!

Although I did read some of her middle novels like “Cat’s Eye” and “Blind Assassin,” I don’t own the books; I was mostly using the library then. And I haven’t read any of her “science fiction” novels like the MaddAddam Trilogy. Maybe it is time? (although the library is closed during this pandemic) Or maybe I have new favorite authors? Any other Atwood fans that would want to answer my friend’s question? Or mine?



[…] not keeping up with my journals. During these unprecedented times I should be writing more…(Bear Witness as Margaret Atwood recently suggested) Somehow I don’t know what to say — I just […]

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