If you know me at all, you know that I love Margaret Atwood (who sometimes refers to me as Karmel). My dissertation was on her work, I’m the former President of the Margaret Atwood Society, and I run a weekly book group that started out as an all-Atwood reading group some six years ago. One of the great pleasures in my life is getting people to read Atwood if they haven’t done so already.
Like most people, my first glimpse at Atwood was with The Handmaid’s Tale, which we read in High School. It was banned by the district, so my private program required it be bought. One of my aunt’s found it in a used bookstore and came home to announce that I shouldn’t be allowed to read it. Apparently, there was sex with three people described vividly. My mother decided I could handle whatever it was. The sex scene referred to was far from sexy (it was the opposite of sexy, actually), but the book was glorious. It was poetry and it was social justice. It scared me and thrilled me.
After I left high school and before I went to college, I found a book of Atwood’s poetry. I wasn’t in the habit of reading poetry then, but I had loved Handmaid’s Tale so much that I took the book home and read it. If you’ve never read her poetry, check out “Variations on the word Sleep,” “Siren Song,” “This is a photograph of me,” and “you fit into me.”
If you haven’t read Atwood, you should. Because of her breadth and her use of various genres, she’s written at least one thing you would like. Not everyone loves Handmaid’s Tale, but if you’re a sci-fi person, you need to read Oryx and Crake. If you like historical novels and/or psychology, you will love Alias Grace, which is based on a true story. Shoot me an email; tell me what you like; I’ll find an Atwood for you.
My book group is throwing Atwood a birthday party in absentia today–we’re having our favorite main dish (crock-pot lasagna) and a birthday cake on which a flying pig will wish all our dreams come true. And then we’ll raise a glass to her and wish her happy birthday and many more years (and many more books).