20 July 2004 at 11:57 Leave a comment

Found this Margaret Atwood interview in the Guardian.

I don’t read literature to be upset by it, so I don’t read a lot of Atwood, but I do admire her work. She’s a great writer; I just don’t tend to want to hear her stories. One exception is “Cat’s Eye“, which is as brilliant as anything she writes, but a lot less frustrating for me. I imagine that’s because I wasn’t terrorized by my fellow little girls as a child.

The fact of the matter is that she speaks to my fears. She is, as far as I’m concerned, an intellectual horror story writer. Her “Handmaid’s Tale” is far too close to possible reality, far too close to my fears, for me to ‘enjoy’ it. Each time I’ve picked up one of her books, other than Cat’s Eye, I’ve found myself tied up in knots and had to put it down. I know my own fears. Reading a brilliant elaboration of them does not make them lighter for me, but heavier.

I thought the interviewer was a bit of a ninny: Atwood “isn’t, by training, an academic. By the time she was halfway through her PhD she was earning enough from writing to jack it in.”

Um. She is an academic by training. If you get post-graduate education you are an academic by training. She just isn’t an ‘academic’, that is to say, she doesn’t make a living as an academic.

But the writer did have the good grace to make fun of herself and simultaneously give us a good glimpse of Atwood’s perspective:

Interviewer: So, when you decided to go into art rather than science –

Atwood: It wasn’t a decision.

Interviewer: Is it a predominantly optimistic or pessimistic view of human nature that –

Atwood: It doesn’t apply. Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.

I love intelligent people.


Entry filed under: writing.

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T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



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