TulsaReads: Where to start with Margaret Atwood?
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, March 03, 2013
3/03/13 at 3:56 AM
Margaret Atwood is the subject of the current TulsaReads, the citywide program that explores the life and works of a given author through a variety of media and activities.
Atwood is one of the world's most acclaimed writers, having won the top literary awards in her native Canada multiple times, as well as winning England's Man Booker Prize.
She is also highly prolific and works in just about every imaginable literary form - fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's books, scripts for plays and films, even libretti for opera ("Pauline," an opera about the life of Canadian poet Pauline Johnson, will premiere in 2014, with a score by composer Tobin Stokes). Which might beg the question: with so many ways of entering the various worlds that Margaret Atwood has created, what would be the best place to start exploring?
Here you could start at the beginning, with Atwood's first novel, "The Edible Woman" (1969), in which the main character begins to fear that the men in her life are feeding on her in less than metaphorical ways.
Or there is what is perhaps Atwood's best-known work, the 1985 novel "The Handmaid's Tale," about an America under the rule of a repressive, religiously fundamentalist government, and the handmaid known as Offred, and her evolution from a concubine of one of the new rulers to a reluctant revolutionary.
Then, there is "Oryx and Crake," another futuristic tale about genetic engineering run amok. It's also the first of a trilogy of novels about this same world, that includes "The Year of the Flood" and Atwood's forthcoming "Maddaddam."
Atwood has written more than 20 volumes of poetry, so perhaps the best starting point might be to track down "Selected Poems" (1976) and "Selected Poems II" (1986), to get the best introduction to Atwood's poetry.
"Bluebeard's Egg" (1986) is perhaps her best-known story collection, but "Good Bones and Simple Murders" (1994) is a much more eclectic assemblage of Atwood's writings in shorter forms.
Atwood addresses six basic questions about the craft of writing in "Negotiating with the Dead," a book that started as a series of lectures Atwood gave at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent work of nonfiction is "In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination," about Atwood's affection for, and use of, science fiction.
And that's just the start ...
Tulsa Reads is project of the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at Oklahoma State University, Tulsa Town Hall, the Tulsa City-County Library and the Tulsa World.
Original Print Headline: Where to start with Margaret Atwood?
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
Margaret Atwood. Courtesy