Tagged: Margaret Atwood

Reading in Bed Year in Review #1: Literary Crushes

I’ve been working away at a Year in Review mega-post for a while now, but realized if I wait to finish the whole thing, it’ll probably never get posted. So I’m posting it in pieces. Here’s a fun one to start with. Literary crushes: Not just for Twilight Moms.

This is also probably a good place to announce that I won a Bare it For Books calendar. So this list might grow after I receive it!

Author Crushes
1. Michael Ondaatje,
which I already embarrassed myself about here. Let’s just revisit this classic pic, and please do check out the source, the Can Lit is Sexy tumblr.

Michael Ondaatje Play Doctor

Via http://canlitissexy.tumblr.com which you should all visit immediately

2. Anton Chekhov. I was looking at some Wikipedia page about Russian authors, probably trying to determine if there were any women writing in the 1800s (seems not) when something caught my eye. It was Anton with his excellent hair and bone structure, and let’s just ignore the beard. If Bangable Dudes in History was still updating, I would submit this in a second.

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

3. Joseph Boyden. The lovely folks at Penguin Canada are sending me a copy of The Orenda so I can finally join in the award-snub outrage! In the meantime, check out Joseph’s holiday message for the Penguin Delights campaign – great smile, no pants, yes please:

 

Character Crushes

1. David Slaney from Lisa Moore’s Caught. David is one of those people who can seduce you by walking into a room. There’s a memorable scene where he is hiding from the police in a bride’s hotel room. She’s minutes away from walking down the aisle, and while they don’t, they come so close… dang.  In my head, David looks like James McAvoy circa The Last King of Scotland:

via filmdetail.com

via filmdetail.com

2. Jimmy from Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. The secret’s out: Part of the reason I love O&C so much, and wasn’t as into the other Maddaddam books, is that I have a massive crush on Jimmy. Unlike David, who could have anyone, Jimmy only preys on vulnerable women. He’s got a massive inferiority complex. Mommy issues abound.  He’s awful, actually. I’m not sure what this says about me. If I were casting Jimmy, I’d go with 12 Monkeys era Brad Pitt. You know, a little dirty, a little crazy.

via extremetech.com

via extremetech.com

So, fess up: Who were your literary crushes this year?

A Conversation with Margaret Atwood and Alanis Morissette

AtwoodAlanis

This event had me confused for months. I finally found out that it’s a sort of teaser for next year’s Festival of Ideas at the U of A (which will be headlined by Twitter-infamous Joyce Carol Oates.) For just $50, you could listen to Margaret Atwood and Alanis in conversation about “Life. Love. Art” as per the promotional material. That’s pretty vague, and I had no idea what to expect.

The books editor for the Globe and Mail attempted to moderate the conversation, but he was a little out of his league. I have a problem with vicarious embarrassment and I was starting to squirm as both women pretty blatantly ignored him. Thankfully, Atwood took over handily and dominated the conversation throughout.

Alanis seemed starstruck, Atwood bemused – very true to her reputation as one who gives few, if any, fucks. My favourite bit was when Alanis tried to toss off a cute remark, “and that’s why I started my own record company when I was ten!” and Atwood grilled her: “how did you do that? What did you do first”? Did you put out a record? Then what?” and it was impossible to tell if she was genuinely interested or subtly calling bullshit, but I pretended it was the latter.

Much of the talk concerned the creative process – how it’s different for music versus books, vulnerability, autobiography (or not,) and it was fairly interesting, if a bit predictable. They also addressed their roles as trailblazers for female (song)writers. I’ve always found it strange that Alanis is presented as a trailblazer because when Jagged Little Pill came out I was listening to Hole and Garbage and wearing homemade Riot Grrl t-shirts, and Alanis seemed so sanitized, movie theatre blow jobs notwithstanding. In my experience, people who listened to JLP were the same people that listened to, like, Hootie and the Blowfish.

It’s somewhat tough for me to appreciate Atwood’s trailblazer status too, being just a kid when The Handmaid’s Tale was released, and not crediting it with my awakening as a feminist – just bad timing, I’m sure (I happened to read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf years earlier, and that’s the one that opened my eyes.) Atwood, as I expected, dismissed the designation all together, saying that it was so hard out there for a Canadian writer back in the day that she barely had time to register the difficulties of being female.

Alanis bemoaned the sexualization of female artists (yep, Miley was mentioned) and the over-commercialization of music; and I swear it was a coincidence that I noticed her pristine Louboutins while she was saying something about how it’s not all about the money. I don’t deny her the right to comment as such but it was kind of ironic. I think. Am I using that word right?

Overall, Atwood was deadpan funny, sharp, and just a smidge more self-deprecating that I expected. I could have listened to her talk much longer. I wanted to hear more about Maddaddam and what’s next. Alanis was alright, but speaks in this weird, half hippy, half business-speak lingo that was setting my teeth on edge. She kept using the word “serviceful,” meaning serving your community (or something) – why not just say “serving” or “being of service?” Then she went and misused “begging the question” which is a pet peeve of mine. As far as I’m concerned, most people use that expression to look smart, and 90% of them use it incorrectly. Isn’t THAT ironic?

Ms. Atwood must have stayed two hours after the event to sign books, and she was gamely chatting and taking pictures (I was too scared to ask!) I didn’t think there would be a signing and didn’t bring my own books – major disappointment. I bought a copy of Cat’s Eye and one of the Winspear staff told me she hadn’t seen anyone else with that book for signing, so at least I was original in my failure.

Photo Credit: My sister who stood with me for that hour and a half!

Photo Credit: My sister who stood in line with me for an hour and a half!

Worth it.

Worth it.

I was more blown away by Atwood’s stamina than the event itself, but I’m so grateful that I got to meet a true heroine of CanLit.

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Six (Part 13 – 15 Reaction)

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For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Reading Parts 13-15 The shortest section, and after the shocker in part 12, maybe a little anti-climactic, I read this bit like a maniac, probably in the middle of the night, hoping to find out why.  Of course, I didn’t find out. The next morning, I bought The Year of the Flood. And yesterday, I finished Maddaddam, and so, the trilogy in it’s entirety. Full review of the whole shebang to come.

Part 13-15 Reaction

Poem: On revisiting this section, I noticed some nice symmetry in the table of contents. And when you think about it, the chapter titles kind of sound poetic, when read together. Don’t you think? Or is this a symptom of Atwood fangirling?

OryxCrakePoem

Continue reading

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Five (Part 10 – 12 Reaction)

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For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Reading Parts 10-12

I’m struggling to write about this section without spoilers – there are a couple major developments, and, while rereading in preparation for this post, I had a new thought that kind of blew my mind, but I can’t talk about it yet! So I’m going to take a different approach.

I am such a loser when I read, I often laugh, cry, gasp, put my hand over my mouth, or on my cheek, Home Alone style. Here are a few of my visceral reactions to this section:

Shudder: I still think Chickie Nobs win the prize, but there were a very passages that gave me the heebie jeebies:

Soon, said the artists, ignoring him, there would be nothing left but a series of long subterranean tubes covering the surface of the planet…People would creep along through this tubing, single file, stark naked, their only view the asshole of the one before them in line, their urine and excrement flowing down through vents in the floor, until there were randomly selected by a digitized mechanism, at which point they would be sucked up into a side tunnel, ground up, and fed to the other through a series of nipple shaped appendages on the inside of the tube.

That’s a little too Human Centipede for me.

Cringe: When Jimmy uses his dad’s turns of phrase, I cringe so hard. And wince. I’m embarrassed for him. I don’t know if he’s still parodying his parents, but his audience is gone. To his girlfriend Amanda, who has presumably not met dear old dad:

“I could join the ranks of the permanently unemployed. Or, hey, I could go on being a kept man, like now. Joke! Joke! Don’t kill me!” Continue reading

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Four (Part 7 – 9 Reaction)

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For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Reading Parts 7-9

This is probably the section of the book I remember the least about. Maybe I read it late at night. Or maybe I read it really fast, because we`re finally making some progress. Jimmy’s on the move, and he’s telling us more about Crake. Looking back, there are actually a bunch of really important things in these chapters, but I can’t talk about them yet! So if you`re still reading, PAY ATTENTION.

My thoughts are a little disjointed, but as always, there’s lots to comment on. The writing is so dense.

Continue reading

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Three (Part 4 – 6 Reaction)

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For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Reading Parts 4-6

If parts 1-3 left me engrossed, parts 4-6 left me enthralled. I read parts 4-6 on my first day with the book. It was near the end of this section that I realized I was going to finish the book soon – really soon.

I was staying in a cabin on Cape Breton Island with my family, and I must thank my 18-month-old for demanding to nurse constantly while we were away – we were down to once a day, but he was looking for something familiar, I guess. As much as it sucks (ha ha) to have a 30+ lb, squirmy, violent toddler latched on to you 24-7, there are benefits.  Oh, I guess I have to sit down and, oh, I’ll just grab my Kobo… no, no, you go to the beach without me… Seriously, I finished like four books on this vacation.

Anyways, the book. There’s a lot going on, and this section is more than twice as long as the previous one. Let’s get to it. Continue reading

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Two (Part 1 – 3 Reaction)

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For all the details on this read-along, head over to the sign up post on Reading in Winter.

Confession
“Read-along” implies that the participants will read the book on the same schedule. I deviated from the assigned dates a little bit with Moby Dick, but this is a bit extreme. I read the first assigned section, parts 1-3, in my first sitting. I believe I read all the way to part 6 or 7 on the first day. I tried to ration it. I tried to read my other book instead, but my other book was Northanger Abbey which is such a bore compared to this. I finished the book in four days. Continue reading

Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post One (Introduction)

It’s time to get cracking on Oryx and Crake! Go to Readinginwinter.com for all the particulars, and apologies for formatting etc as I am writing this from my phone while on vacation.

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My Copy
I’m reading on my Kobo, though it’s occurred to me that I should pick up a paper copy. Ereaders are great, but they are terribly for flipping through to find quotes. Unlike Moby-Dick, i probably can’t find the whole text of this one fee online, so I’ll have to pay up.

I saw the mass market paperback on the “Summer Reads” table at Chapters, which is odd, as I don’t really think of Atwood as beach read material.

What I Know About the Book
Not much at all. I noticed that “oryx” is in my phone’s dictionary, so maybe it’s a real word. I’m trying to stay away from google and go in blind.

I know it’s a trilogy, followed by The Year of the Flood and Maddadam. I don’t read many series so I’m intrigued and wary of the commitment!

My Experience Reading Atwood
To paraphrase a great 90s movie, Atwood is a totally important Canadian writer. I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale (loved, but don’t remember well) and Surfacing, an early novel that I found a little too weird, and I like weird. Not having read more Atwood is one of my (not so) secret shames when it comes to CanLit.

What I Hope To Get Out of the Read-Along

I hope to absolve my CanLit guilt, improve my ratios of Canadian and female authors read this year, and find out what the heck an oryx is. Oh, and have fun!

CanLit Confessions

The English Patient by Michael Odaantje

The cover is totally blah, too.

Tomorrow night I’m going to the MacEwan Book of the Year event featuring Michael Ondaatje. Not only will I be at an event with grown ups and out of the house after 7:00pm, I will also get to hear the iconic Canadian author read from his book The Cat’s Table and take home a signed copy. I hope it fares better than my last signed book (see the footprint incident.)

I have to tell you something, though. I’ve never read any of Ondaatje’s books. It gets worse: I started The English Patient but didn’t finish it. I am a book-finisher, so when I DNF, that’s pretty bad. I read the synopsis for The Cat’s Table and it sounds pretty far removed from The English Patient, so I want to give it a try. I’m still going to feel like a straight up poser at this event, though.

Here are a few more shameful CanLit Confessions. Please share yours!

1. I’ve only read two of Margaret Atwood’s books, and I only liked one of them (The Handmaid’s Tale, duh.) Surfacing was a little too out there for me, and her books are just not high on my list of priorities right now.

2. I hated Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Yeah, I was forced to read it in high school, but I was also forced to read books that became favourites (CanLit classic The Stone Angel was one,) so I can’t use that excuse.  I just read the plot summary over on Wikipedia and I think a reread is in order. I forgot about the “he wanted it so badly” part. That’s a killer line.

3. I hated The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordechai Richler. I was forced to read this in high school too. In fact, I often get Fifth Business and Duddy mixed up, which is pretty silly, now that I’ve read the plot summaries of each. No desire to reread this one though.

4. Until recently, I’d never heard of M.G. Vassanji. I just finished his latest novel The Magic of Saida. It was difficult to get into, and challenging to read, and brilliant, just brilliant. The guy has won two Giller Prizes. Where the heck have I been?

5. I’ve only read one of Alice Munro’s books. Too Much Happiness was so utterly devastating that I’m kind of scared to read more, though I know that I must.

6. I don’t understand all the fuss about Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees. I should have loved it. I wish I had loved it. I did not.

7. I have no clue how to pronounce Ondaatje. I guess I’ll just call him Mike.