“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood, from “Spelling”
In case you want to be jealous…
You know those literary idols you’re afraid to meet because they might be cold in person even though their writing breaks your heart? I’m here to tell you Margaret Atwood is not one of them.
Thanks to Kepler’s Books, I had the incredible honor of meeting Margaret yesterday afternoon while she was pre-signing books for an event. She was absolutely lovely — gracious and kind and so so so informed and interesting. Dang, she knows more about WWII than I do!
I didn’t want to bring my whole big stack of her books to have signed (well, I did WANT to, but I do have SOME judgment), so I chose two:
A well-loved (coffee stained, dog-eared, frayed and bookmarked) copy of Selected Poems II, which was the first book Mac ever gave me. (Yes, the fact that he thought to give a book with a poem titled “Aging Female Poet Reads Little Magazines” to a 28-year-old lawyer who lacked the courage to imagine she might be a writer, much less submit to those little magazines that first published her fiction, probably does explain why we’re still madly in love after 26 years.)
And my 1st edition of her Booker-winning The Blind Assassin. I love this novel, and it won the Booker, and I have a 1st edition hardcover, so that’s how I chose it. I’ll confess to loving two of her other novels that were shortlisted for the Booker even more: Alias Grace (my favorite Atwood) and The Handmaiden’s Tale, but I couldn’t find my AG hardcover (Mom, did you borrow it and not return it?!), and my Handmaiden’s Tale looks much like my Selected Poems II.
So how incredibly over-the-top kind is Margaret Atwood? She asked for the title of The Race for Paris again as I was leaving, so she could write it down. I offered to send one to her. She replied that if I could get her one that afternoon, she would have something to read last night!
Of course I did. I don’t know whether to hope she opened it, or to be very afraid. Can I revise that opening sentence one last time?
Margaret Atwood’s new novel is The Heart Goes Last. I bet Kepler’s has a few signed copies left, but if I were you, I’d get to the store right now. – Meg