07 September 2006

Pinch Me!

I’m going to hear Margaret Atwood tonight night at Emory University. In case you’re unfamiliar with her [and please don't tell me if you've never heard of her], she wrote Alias Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, Surfacing, Cat’s Eye, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, The Robber Bride, and many more. I’ve loved her books for more than twenty-five years. Tonight she’s going to talk about her latest novel, The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus.

From Publishers Weekly:
Drawing on a range of sources, in addition to The Odyssey, Atwood scripts the narrative of Penelope, the faithful and devoted wife of Odysseus and her 12 maids, who were killed upon the master's return. Atwood proposes striking interpretations of her characters that challenge the patriarchal nature of Greek mythology. The chapters transition between the firsthand account of Penelope and the chorus of maids as listeners are taken from Penelope's early life to her afterlife. Laural Merlington charmingly delivers the witty and perceptive Penelope with realistic inflection and emphasis. Some of her vocal caricatures seem over the top, but most voices maintain a resemblance to our perceptions of these mythic people. The maids are presented as a saddened chorus by a cloning of Merlington's voice. These dark figures speak straightforwardly in their accusations of Penelope and Odysseus, while, at other times, they make use of rhyming. This format works well, though sometimes the cadence and rhyming scheme are off beat. This benefits the production by creating an eerie resonance and haunting demeanor that enhances this engaging tale.

I can’t wait to be in the same room with Margaret Atwood. I need to bask in her brilliance right now. I’ve been working on several short stories this summer, and last week I came down with a nasty case of the I’m-a-talentless-hackitis. I hope that hearing Ms. Atwood talk will inoculate me from my inner demons. I need inspiration and some ass-kicking; too much is riding on these stories.

Margaret Atwood. Isn’t she lovely?

Another night in the presence of literary greatness. T. Coraghessan Boyle in July, Richard Ford this fall. See, folks, we ain’t illiterate and culture-free down here in the South, even during college football season.

The purchase link used for The Penelopiad is for a local bookstore chain. Support the independents and buy a copy — or seven — from Chapter 11 Books. Powell's Books isn't the only independent selling online, kids.

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At 9/07/2006 06:29:00 PM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

What's wrong with illiterate and culture-free?

At 9/07/2006 09:15:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

yeah, but powell's is the only independent union bookstore...


At 9/07/2006 09:54:00 PM, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Atwood is excellent! You'll enjoy her...and she's Canadian! (me too!)She was having dinner across from us in a restaurant on Peelee Island once and later we saw her on a bike ride.

At 9/07/2006 10:26:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

I love this series--Atwood's book is joined by one by Jeanette Winterson (one of my faves) who writes the story of Atlas. And maybe Karen Armstrong also does one? It's a myth-a-palooza!

At 9/07/2006 10:35:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Never heard of her.

At 9/07/2006 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

COASTER PUNCHMAN: Nothing at all, especially when liberally sprinkled with alcohol.

M: True ... but I've heard that Powell's management spies on their union folks. That's mean. I still buy a few books a year from their online store, to support the independents.

MOTHER OF INVENTION: I did enjoy her. Very much. Post to come tomorrow or Saturday morning.

KFLUFF: I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know it was a series until this evening. I plan to pick up the other two this weekend.

DALE: LMAO! You never disappoint.

At 9/08/2006 03:38:00 AM, Blogger barista brat said...

hope your evening was fun!
did you get an autograph?

At 9/08/2006 06:36:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

BRAT: Margaret Atwood was brilliant; I'll try to do a write-up this afternoon. The line was soooooooooo long -- maybe two hundred people ahead of me -- and I was wearing three-inch heels -- so I skipped the autograph session. I would have loved to be face-to-face with her, but I just wasn't up for a line.

At 9/08/2006 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I've got a new paperback edition of The Handmaid's Tale that she signed to commemorate the opera that played here last year. Still never heard of her.

At 9/08/2006 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Maybe you were hit twice in twenty seconds by the same truck, and thus the memory of shaking her hand didn't stick.

BTW, she enjoyed the Lord of the Rings musical.

At 9/08/2006 08:25:00 AM, Blogger Ben said...

I would never for one minute suggest that you Southern girls haven't got a zest for great literature.

How could I, I can't even raise myself to get through the whole of a music magazine.

I am what you call a complete literary LUDDITE.

At 9/08/2006 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Not even Richard Hell's novels?

But that's sinful that you can't make it through a music mag -- your island country publishes the best ones -- with CDs attached!!

At 9/08/2006 12:53:00 PM, Blogger nancy said...

You inspired me, I have yet to read an Atwwod novel I loved (have tried a couple) so I just went ot the library this morning and borrowed the Penelopiad. Looks interesting enough.

At 9/08/2006 12:56:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I love those British music mags with the CD's attached too! Shame on you Ben.

At 9/08/2006 02:15:00 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Every week I get NME
and every month I get Q, MOJO, and Uncut.

That's 7 magazines per month plus about half a dozen CD's to work through.

Do I get any sympathy yet ?

At 9/08/2006 02:41:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

NANCY: Let me know what you think. I know Atwood isn't for everyone, but she's always struck a chord with me.

DALE: You tell him!

BEN: Damn -- and you don't have to pay twice the price we do here in the U.S. I'll give you a wee bit of sympathy ... if you send me MP3s of the really cool tracks.


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