Amber Tucker's Reviews > Negotiating with the Dead

Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood
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Mar 04, 14

bookshelves: to-read
Read in April, 2010

Someone's looking out for me up there. Last spring I happened upon Northrop Frye's Educated Imagination, and devoured it (and have since done so a few more times). More recently, I bought Margaret Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead, only because I'd enjoyed some of her poetry and this was in a blow-out sale at Coles. Like Frye's Massey Lectures, it's one of those books that has changed the way I think about literature and writing. What's astonishing to me is how well one follows upon the other. There are insights made in Negotiating that I couldn't have understood without having read Frye and digested it over time. I don't care that some people dislike Margaret Atwood, just because she's Margaret Atwood. Her writing style is masterful and, more than that, it's engaging; it's fun to read.

For anyone unfamiliar with them, Frye's above-mentioned work looks at the overall purpose of literature, especially as relating to a human heritage of stories (hellooooo, Campbell's hero myth). Atwood's touches on some of the same material, but she goes on to discuss the identity of the writer, who?? the writer writes to/for, and the possible responsibilities (or lack thereof) literature has in/for society. I admire the answers that she comes to, and the pragmatic but interesting ways she gets to them. As an aspiring writer myself, I am developing my own sense of what literary theory I do and don't agree with, what I can believe in my 'writing heart' – that which feels true from my own experience. Atwood's is an approach I like very much. She writes unpretentiously, but her many examples from writing past and present (easily explaining them for those of us who are less-well read) show how she clearly knows what she's talking about.

TBC...
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03/04 marked as: to-read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Brad (new)

Brad I thanked her in person for writing Surfacing. I think I sort of wrecked her day, though. I interrupted her during intermission at the play we were at.


Amber Tucker Really? If so, it shows how lofty she must be to feel her day's ruined by hearing thanks for writing a book. Geez. Anyone can ruin my day like that any time they please.


message 3: by Brad (new)

Brad I dunno. I kinda understood it. She was just wanting to watch the play with her husband, and she was gracious despite the annoyance I perceived, but then I am predisposed to assume the worst. I am still glad I bothered her, though, even if I am cool with her response.


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