Monday, September 23, 2013

The National Book Festival 2013: Margaret Atwood

Did you know Margaret Atwood had a Twitter? I didn't.

From one side of a standing room only tent at the National Book Festival, I learned a lot more about Margaret Atwood than I knew before. Her father was an entymologist, The Complete Works of Shakespeare would be her reading of choice on the proverbial deserted island, and she won't divulge her favorite authors or her favorite among her own books.

Atwood did divulge, however, her opinions on genetic manipulation, genre, and the cover of the just-released end to her dystopian trilogy, MadAddam. As Atwood put it, genetic manipulation and other future technological/biotechnological tools have a "good use, a bad use, and a use that no one expected." She spoke in praise of the recent attempt at a lab-grown burger and in support of continuing such projects. Growing up with an entymologist father and her own inclinations seem to have made her quite scientific in thought and opinion. When asked if she had grown up with animals, she pointed out that "everyone does," as they are "all around us and some of them are inside of us." She credited the discovery of microbes with the launch of tales about truly fearsome-looking Martians. In regard to science fiction, she noted that she thinks of genre as mainly a convenience for booksellers and sometimes for readers. "Once you create a box," she said, "sometimes the wrong things will end up in the box." She seems neither to cling to genre nor rebel against it, but accept its existence as just another human imperfection. She was less sanguine about the apparently imperfect covers that went before the current iteration of MadAddam. The first two covers featured flowers and gnomes respectively, neither of which, she regrets, are largely important to her book. Her book might be for the kinds of readers who are "not into flowers and not into gnomes." Either way, she's pleased with the cover that features an egg with a hand-print--so perhaps it's for readers who are into that kind of thing.

I also learned from Ms. Atwood that The Handmaid's Tale is an opera and is going to be a ballet! She said she wouldn't miss the latter. I may have to, but I'm sure it could be quite thought-provoking.

1 comment:

Riv said...

I knew Margaret Atwood has Twitter account! :) Have been follower for a while. I read Oryx and Crake last year, but need to pick up the other two books of the series.