Margaret Atwood

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Reviews, recommendations, books to avoid. What have you been reading?

Margaret Atwood

Postby different glory » July 19th, 2014, 11:38 pm

An extraordinary writer! I've read just a very few of her books, but two of them - very different from each other - were stunningly good. One was Cat's Eye, which is a crystal-sharp evocation of the enormous importance of apparently trivial interactions, childhood and familial. Brilliant.

The other was the wild, post-apocalyptic (and hence you could say SF) The Year of the Flood - amazing and passionate, and with scenes of brutality, but eventually yielding hope. (I didn't like its predecessor Oryx and Crake.)
And I'm just about to launch into Maddaddam, which follows on from both of those. Very, very keen to see what will come of it.

(The Handmaid's Tale? Yes, good, as say, a John Wyndham is good, but not up there with these. Even so, one line of it has stayed with me since I read it, probably twenty years ago or more.)
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. - Psalm 26
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby GregB » July 20th, 2014, 8:06 am

different glory wrote:(The Handmaid's Tale? Yes, good, as say, a John Wyndham is good, but not up there with these. Even so, one line of it has stayed with me since I read it, probably twenty years ago or more.)

What line is that, DG?

I've never read any of Atwood's novels, but then I virtually stopped reading fiction about twenty years ago after years of reading almost nothing but. (I now read just about everything else.) Interesting how, like Doris Lessing, she wasn't afraid to use science fiction as a vehicle for some of her ideas, a genre usually despised by the snootier literati (though crime fiction has become intellectually 'respectable', not to mention crime cinema/TV, as you've mentioned elsewhere.)
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby different glory » July 22nd, 2014, 12:02 am

"There is freedom from, as well as freedom to."
Spoken by an older woman mentor to young women, in discussing the hideously repressive society of Atwood's dystopian future. It indicates Atwood's ability to offer moral complexities; a lesser writer would have had the repressive regime presented without such shading. And it's helpful in understanding some cultural dissonances,too, I think, and in thinking through the ways in which social/political changes might be beneficial, and the ways they might constrict freedoms from. (Or freedoms to.)
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. - Psalm 26
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Lyn » July 22nd, 2014, 3:32 pm

I have only read Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" and thought it was wonderful, never forgotten it. Coincidentally, not long after reading it, it was on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime (or book at sometime, forget which), so I got a double dose, reading and listening. Marvellous book. Perhaps I ought to delve further into her writings. Canadian writer I believe, Pondy might know of her.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Pondero » July 22nd, 2014, 10:06 pm

Sorry Victoria, I am like councillor Doug Ford (mayor Rob Ford of Toronto's brother) who said back in 2011.

Councillor Doug Ford has fired back at world-renowned author Margaret Atwood for her criticism of suggested library cuts, telling reporters: “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”
Ford also said that the literary icon and activist — who took him to task on Twitter for saying, erroneously, that his Etobicoke ward has more libraries than Tim Hortons **— should get herself elected to office or pipe down.
“Well good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is,” said the councillor and advisor to his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, after a committee meeting on proposed cuts.
“She’s not down here, she’s not dealing with the problem. Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected. And we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.”
Atwood, an activist on literary and human rights causes, waded into municipal politics in a minor way last Thursday.


** Tim Hortons is a coffee shop.

My youngest grandson says Margaret Atwood lives near the corner of Bloor and Royal York -( near my parish church Our Lady of Sorrows - but whoever she is she is unlikely to enter those hallowed portals. ) . His English teacher told him so, and said grandson is having to read The Handmaid's Tale this summer (a grade XII book in a Catholic school which is pornographic)!! What next?
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Pondero » July 22nd, 2014, 11:16 pm

Continuing on with what Doug Ford thinks of Margaret Atwood. (I am joking when I say I don't know of Margaret Atwood, But, Doug Ford should know her as he was educated at Scarlfett Heights Collegiate, up the road 3km from where I live and practically across the road from Doug Ford's mother's home).Surely, that school has or had an English department!
Atwood, an activist on literary and human rights causes, waded into municipal politics in a minor way last Thursday.
She retweeted a Twitter message asking people to sign an online petition, started by the library workers’ union, telling city hall to ignore consultant KPMG’s suggestion to “rationalize the footprint of libraries to reduce service levels, closing some branches.”
Many of Atwood’s more than 250,000 Twitter followers complied, promptly crashing the server hosting the petition.
The author then started tweeting about the library fight, mocking Doug Ford’s Tim Hortons comment on talk radio, and telling the Star that Toronto’s libraries are “astonishing. I’ve done research in them.”
She tweeted Friday: “Twin Fordmayor seems to think those who eat Timbits (like me) don’t read, can’t count, & are stupid eh?” and later asked her followers to check out library books, hold a book club in Tim Hortons and submit their names to win a visit from her and possibly other authors.
Atwood was publicly quiet Tuesday, a day after writing that she would be away from Twitter for a week writing her next novel. Calls to her publisher and private office have not been returned.
Both “Margaret Atwood” and “Doug Ford” were briefly “trending” worldwide on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, meaning they were among the most discussed topics on the social networking site.
Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) stood by his contention that some of Toronto’s 99 libraries should close, adding he would shutter one of the three in his Ward 2, Etobicoke North ward “in a heartbeat.”
“All my point is, in my area at Rexdale and Kipling, there’s a library in an industrial area that is an industrial plaza and no one knows it’s there. But it’s there.
“Why do we need another little library in the middle of nowhere that no one uses? My constituents, it wouldn’t bother them because you have another library two miles one way and two miles the other way.”
His comments about Atwood left some council colleagues bewildered.
“It’s just not something you say one of Toronto’s, and Canada’s, literary giants,” said Councillor Mike Layton. “She’s Margaret Atwood — she’s pretty important and a source of pride to a lot of people. What I’m hearing from people is mostly embarrassment about his remarks.”
Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), a rookie member of council’s left wing, said he would be “surprised” if Ford meant he has never heard of Atwood, one of the world’s most honoured living fiction writers, with awards including a Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin and two Governor General’s Awards, for The Circle Game and The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Whatever he meant, to tell somebody they have to get elected before we’ll listen to them is just rude. But he was equally dismissive with two CUPE (deputants) who had just told us how they clean up blood and puke in police cells and don’t want to lose their jobs to contracting out.”
With files from David Rider


:yahoo:
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Lyn » July 23rd, 2014, 2:53 pm

Pondy, there was absolutely nothing pornographic about "The Handmaid's Tale". I don't know where they got that from. I'm sure dg will agree with me.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Pondero » July 23rd, 2014, 4:02 pm

Victoria Plum wrote:Pondy, there was absolutely nothing pornographic about "The Handmaid's Tale". I don't know where they got that from. I'm sure dg will agree with me.



Frequent challenges, ALA conference, and controversy[edit]
The American Library Association (ALA) lists The Handmaid's Tale as number 37 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000".[17] Atwood participated in discussing The Handmaid's Tale as the subject of an ALA discussion series titled "One Book, One Conference".[18]
The book's place in school curricula and assignments has been challenged on a number of occasions:
1990: Challenged at Rancho Cotate High School, Rohnert Park, California because it was said to be too explicit for students.
1992: Challenged in Waterloo, Iowa schools, reportedly because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.
1993: Removed from the Chicopee, Massachusetts high school English class reading list because of profanity and sex.
1998: Challenged for use in Richland, Washington high school English classes along with six other titles because the "books are poor quality literature and stress suicide, illicit sex, violence, and hopelessness".
1999: Challenged because of graphic sex, but retained on the advanced placement English list, at George D. Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Florida.
2000: Downgraded from “required” to “optional” on the summer reading list for eleventh graders in the Upper Moreland School District near Philadelphia due to “age-inappropriate” subject matter.
2001: Challenged, but retained, in the Dripping Springs, Texas senior Advanced Placement English course as an optional reading assignment. Some parents were offended by the book’s descriptions of sexual encounters.
2006: Initially banned by Superintendent Ed Lyman from an advanced placement English curriculum in the Judson, Texas school district, after a parent complained that the novel was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. Lyman had overruled the recommendation of a committee of teachers, students, and parents; the committee appealed the decision to the school board, which overturned the ban.[19]
According to Education Reporter Kristin Rushowy of the Toronto Star (16 Jan. 2009), in 2008 a parent in Toronto, Canada, wrote a letter to his son's high school principal, asking that the book no longer be assigned as required reading, stating that the novel is "rife with brutality towards and mistreatment of women (and men at times), sexual scenes, and bleak depression."[20] Rushowy quotes the response of Russell Morton Brown, a retired University of Toronto English professor, who acknowledged that
The Handmaid's Tale wasn't likely written for 17-year-olds, 'but neither are a lot of things we teach in high school, like Shakespeare. ...'And they are all the better for reading it. They are on the edge of adulthood already, and there's no point in coddling them,' he said, adding, 'they aren't coddled in terms of mass media today anyway.' ...He said the book has been accused of being anti-Christian and, more recently, anti-Islamic because the women are veiled and polygamy is allowed. ...But that 'misses the point,' said Brown. 'It's really anti-fundamentalism.'[20]
In her earlier account (14 Jan. 2009), Rushowy indicates that, in response to the parent's complaint, a Toronto District School Board committee was "reviewing the novel"; while noting that "The Handmaid's Tale is listed as one of the 100 'most frequently challenged books' from 1990 to 1999 on the American Library Association's website", Rushowy reports that "The Canadian Library Association says there is 'no known instance of a challenge to this novel in Canada' but says the book was called anti-Christian and pornographic by parents after being placed on a reading list for secondary students in Texas in the 1990s."[21]
In November 2012 two parents in Guilford County, North Carolina protested inclusion of the book on a required reading list at a local high school. The parents presented the school board with a petition signed by 2,300 people, prompting a review of the book by the school's media advisory committee. According to local news reports, one of the parents said "she felt Christian students are bullied in society, in that they're made to feel uncomfortable about their beliefs by non-believers. She said including books like The Handmaid's Tale contributes to that discomfort, because of its negative view on religion and its anti-biblical attitudes toward sex."[22]


I haven't read the book Victoria, but this is where it comes from - wikipedia!
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Lyn » July 23rd, 2014, 8:33 pm

The only thing I can think of, which you would consider wrong (though not necessarily in literature), is sex outside of marriage. There was certainly that but there were no lurid sexual descriptions. I still have the book somewhere and will re-read it if I can find it but I don't like stories that are nothing but sex and I thought it was a very well written novel. I read it either end of 1999 or beginning of 2000 but it has always stayed in my mind as something special. Very interested to hear dg's opinion.
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Re: Margaret Atwood

Postby Pondero » July 23rd, 2014, 10:03 pm

Victoria Plum wrote:The only thing I can think of, which you would consider wrong (though not necessarily in literature), is sex outside of marriage. There was certainly that but there were no lurid sexual descriptions. I still have the book somewhere and will re-read it if I can find it but I don't like stories that are nothing but sex and I thought it was a very well written novel. I read it either end of 1999 or beginning of 2000 but it has always stayed in my mind as something special. Very interested to hear dg's opinion.


I don't like Margaret Atwood as a person who has lived off the public teat as a writer supported on gov.grants for far too long. She reminds me of Ms Chow, a mayoral candidate who has even a worse record. But, Chow is not a writer,she is a politician.
I certainly don't like her personality.

EDIT

Good morning,I will give you a reason for my dislike: she is a feminist leader in Canada, of he same ilk as that obnoxious person, leader of the world feminist movement in Australia, Germaine Greer. She wrote the book the Female Eunuch.
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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