I read Life Before Man in my early twenties. That was a long time ago and most of the book’s details are now forgotten to me, but one thing stands out. In the book one of the characters faces both physical violence and emotional indifference from her lover. For her, the physical was (obviously) terrible, but it was the neglect that was going to leave the scars. Upon reading this, the 21-year-old me was like Margaret!! You and me!! We’re the same!! It was a bold and controversial statement, but I got it. I got her. And I’ve been a huge fan ever since.
Last night I had the privilege of being in the same room as Atwood. She was doing a reading from her latest book, MaddAddam, which I have admittedly not yet read. Prior to the reading she was having a drink with Nobel Prize winner Alice Munroe. No big deal. I bet they were drinking juleps.
The reading was great, as you would expect, but the highlight for me was the conversation afterwards. In a discussion with the moderator, the topic of video games came up–the real-life game Intestinal Parasites was inspired by her latest book. As Atwood is a loud advocate of technology, the moderator was careful not to say anything negative, “video games are the modern form of story-telling” she said in an obvious attempt to appease. “Ha”, giggled Atwood, “more like the modern form of crochet”.
I will always love her.