Want a book blurb from Margaret Atwood? Expect a poem instead. Atwood has retired from the blurbing business and now declines in rhyming verse. “But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,/And my adjective store is depleted;/My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;/ As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.” Pair with our essays on the blurbing blunder: a history of blurbs, blurbs as publicity stunts, and the fundamental question — to blurb or not to blurb?
This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.
As all three books in Atwood’s trilogy attest, an apocalypse won’t destroy romantic attraction, longing, or jealousy, nor will it dismantle gender roles — if anything, these are magnified. Atwood’s characters have bodies, and she doesn’t let us forget that fact. (At the end of the world, people will still look at your ass, which is both a problem and a comfort. )
Today’s banned book is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been banned for sexually explicit content.
Also, read our review “The Journey to Planet X: Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds" and her Year in Reading.
Tuesday New Release Day
A new Margaret Atwood novel is out this week, as is a new book by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee. Also out: The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell, At the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick and Duplex by Kathryn Davis. For more on these and other upcoming releases, check out our Great 2013 Second-Half Book Preview.
Did Sontag need to be more ‘momish’? And if she had been—or if she had more children to drop off with the in-laws or the babysitters—would she have been the same writer? Would we have the legacy of her provocative ideas, in criticism and fiction? The grey-streaked eminence of Sontag aside, how do the rest of us mortals negotiate the balance between selfhood and motherhood? Is stopping at one child the answer, or at least the beginning of one?
Why, for instance, did I dream I had surged up through the lawn of Toronto’s Victoria College and clomped into the library, decomposing and covered with mud? The librarian didn’t notice a thing, which, in the dream, I found surprising. Was this an anxiety dream? If so, which anxiety?