Coffey and Margaret Atwood
Thursday, September 07, 2006
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.