Thursday, February 18, 2010

Atwood on Optimism ... and Catastrophe

A recent CNN interview shows Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood looking at life from both sides now. “When Margaret Atwood looks into the future,” begins the piece, “she sees catastrophe.” Which is really a smashing first line, but doesn’t have a whole lot to do with what she actually says in the piece:
“Anybody who writes a book is an optimist,” the much-honored writer says, with a dry impishness, in a phone interview. “First of all, they think they’re going to finish it. Second, they think somebody’s going to publish it. Third, they think somebody’s going to read it. Fourth, they think somebody’s going to like it. How optimistic is that?”
Throughout the article, Atwood mostly discusses her most recent novel, 2009’s spectacular Year of the Flood but, as is usual for this author, she spends some time discussing writing and writers and sharing tidbits of process:
“I have a need for a word, then I have to find the word,” she says. And it’s not always easy: “What you have to do if you’re putting a product or a corporation into a book, is you have to search and find out if there is one or not already. And if there is one already, you have to change yours so it’s not the same.” In Oryx and Crake, she says, she had created an assisted-suicide channel called NightyNight. Unfortunately, in real life, that name belonged to a children’s sleepwear company.

“You don’t want a situation in which you name an assisted-suicide television program after a children’s sleepwear company,” she says.
The CNN piece is fairly long, filled with great quotes, and it’s here. January Magazine’s 2000 interview with Atwood is here.



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