Sunday, November 25, 2007

Margaret Atwood where are you?

Dr. C (whom I get to meet at MLA--a brush with fame it feels like) listed her top ten books to take to a desert island. She chose Atwood's the Robber Bride as one of them, which I don't think I've read. I used to love Atwood. I read everything up to this point: (thanks Wikipedia)

My high school teacher, alarmed that I was reading too much Plath and Sexton, gave me a book of her poems which I read too, though with less enthusiasm.

The other day, I read a review on bookslut about her latest book of poems. She still writes poems? Where did she go? After Cat's Eye, I fell out of love. It was the first time I had been disappointed by a writer. I remember the story beginning so pedestrian, so Anne Tylerish (I don't know if I'm right in my memory...that's just the vague recollection I have). Once I went to college I didn't think of her again.

So she dropped out of my periphery. When she came to do a reading in Salt Lake, I was like, whatever man. Crowds and such. She's too popular, therefore too lame (I guess that was what I felt...again hazy or lazy with the details).

But then, two years ago I read Oryx and Crake. That might be my favorite book of all time. I like books about young boys and apocalypses. Then I read the Blind Assassin. Not my fave, but still, fine. Mythological.

Yesterday, I bought the Robber Bride. If I had my druthers (meaning not having 10 essays to comment on) I'd read it all day.

I wonder, as I write this sort of bullet-pointed post without the bullets, where does Atwood stand on the measuring stick of great writers? In some ways, because she's prolific, she falls into the Updike, Joyce Carol Oates list. Her writing is more akin to John Irving and Tom Robbins--who, are prolific too, I guess. But to me she stands apart--poet and novelist. Not afraid to be political. Willing to let a book fail because of its politics.
I say that I like her very much. Admire her. Maybe the most. And that maybe I didn't go see her in Salt Lake because I want to love her with my singular love and not look at all those other lovers who want to love her singularly too. But next time she comes to a town near me, I'll go. I'll see if I can ask her a lame-free way of asking how she does it.


Lisa B. said...

I still think she does things with language that most "popular" novelists don't do. I let go after The Handmaid's Tale, I guess (a book I loved in a smutty way, even though I'm pretty sure it was better than that). I will pick up Oryx and Crake on your recommendation--I have gotten lazy at tracking the novelists I love. Except Delillo.

P said...

Atwood has always been our favorite in the family. I remember passing around handmaid's tale one summer like a favorite shirt. I could be remembering wrong. Who wrote geek love? same summer?

Dr Write said...

I love Atwood, but I too sort of let her go, not sure when.
But Cat's Eye is one of my favorites! But I love Oryx and Crake too. I didn't love the first ones. I need to go back and read some of the newer ones that I missed out on.
And I agree, she's like John Irving, for me at least. I loved, loved, loved both of them, and then I just stopped reading them.

Valerie said...

I will go out and get Oryx and Crake.