Meeting Margaret Atwood
To be honest, I have only heard of Margaret Atwood in the last few years and I had not read any of her books. So when I heard she was coming to my home town, I decided I need to read something by Ms. Atwood. As luck or fate would have it, I won an ARC of her latest book, Hag-Seed, a retelling of Shakespeare’s, The Tempest.
This book was so clever! It is about Felix who is an artistic director for a Theater Company. His wife has died tragically and three years later his daughter, Miranda, dies. After being fired by his enemy, Tony, Felix has decided to shut himself away from society. He changes his name and lives by himself in the country. This is when Felix hatches his grand plan for revenge. Felix decides to take a job at a prison teaching inmates Shakespeare. The inmates are going to put on a production of The Tempest. Now, I was not very familiar with this play but the book does a great job explaining the premise without boring you. The clever part was that the story Ms. Atwood wrote was a retelling of The Tempest so basically this book is a play within a play. The story was engaging and I was captivated by my curiosity of what Felix’s revenge was going to be. Twelve years is a long time to plan revenge. The characters and prisoners were well developed. Felix’s plight for redemption is heartbreaking at times especially when he believes his daughter, Miranda, is still with him and talks to her daily.
Ms. Atwood was hilarious! Her opening words were “I am honored to be here, my relatives made me do it.” She did impressions and had such a dry and sarcastic humor that kept the over 800 people at the event laughing. Ms. Atwood talked about climate change issues and the importance of the humanities over technology in the future generations’ lives. She said the humanities help us be more creative, more empathetic, and better problem solvers which are all attributes we will need to help get us out of the predicament society is in with climate change. Ms. Atwood also talked about her dystopian books, Oryx and Crake which HBO has picked up. If these books are as insightful and amazing as the author, I will definitely be tuning in.
About the author
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author, poet, and environmental activist whose work is widely known for its commentary on the human condition and female experience. Her more than forty books include The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin, and The Heart Goes Last. Her Oryx and Crake books are being adapted into an HBO series.
An added bonus was I ran into a favorite local author at the event. Debra Marquart is the coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at Iowa State University. She has written poetry and a few books. I had read her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere. I found it fascinating and familiar and couldn’t put it down. Ms. Marquart had invited me on Facebook to the Margaret Atwood event so I took her book in case I ran into her and I did! She was so lovely and humbled that I asked her to sign her book for me.
Goodreads summary: An evocative memoir of growing up on a family farm in rural North Dakota, on land her family had worked for generations, reflects on her desire to escape the difficult life, her relationship with and admiration for her father, and the influence of place on personal identity.