Ellen's Reviews > The Tent

The Tent by Margaret Atwood
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Feb 23, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in February, 2008

Classic Atwood, she is very clever - writing all in the form of a free-spirited, playful confidence:

"Bring your ear down closer. Put your hand over the other ear. Think of seashells. There. Now you can hear me."

Atwood writes of writing in The Tent, the earnest futility of the human condition being mirrored in the act of writing.

"Why do think this writing of yours, this graphomania in a flimsy cave, this scribbling back and forth and up and down over the walls of what is beginning to seem like a prison, is capable of protecting anyone at all? Yourself included. It's an illusion, the belief that your doodling is a kind of armour, a kind of charm, because no one know better than you do how fragile your tent really is. Already there's a clomping of leather-covered feet, there's a scratching,there's a scrabbling, there's a sound of rasping breath. Wind comes in, your candle tips over and flares up, and a loose tent-flap catches fire, and through the widening black-edged gap you can see the eyes of the howlers, red and shining in the light from your burning paper shelter, but you keep on writing anyway because what else can you do?"

These short essays allow one to spend time with Atwood in an unstructured way. Instead of an excursion together as when reading her novels, there is the intimacy of an unstructured couple of hours of just hanging out together.
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