Thursday, December 28, 2006

am i a purist?

So you go along, thinking that you are a very hip and with-it librarian; (and NO those are not mutually exclusive terms) who keeps up with all the new releases, knows what is due to come out and when; gets on all the hot hold lists before anyone else etc, etc, when all of the sudden you are walking past the new fiction display only to spy Moral Disorder and other stories by the incomparable Margaret Atwood (only one of your very favorite authors of all time)~and the title had completely slipped by/through/under/around your radar). How exactly did that happen? And what is to be done (other than to read the damn thing?)
So i did.

The car would be warm, and would smell of apple cores: the boys often ate apples in the car on the way to the city. Tig and Nell would hold hands, on the lonelier and less icy stretches of road. Instead of talking they would listen to the radio. At a certain distance from the city it was mostly country and western. Nell liked the songs of yearning. Tig liked the songs of regret.


(don't you just love that juxtaposition and what it tells you about the characters without having to tell you?)
Atwood still has that Atwood style but she seems a little more removed from her material than she has in earlier writing. The book is written as a series of stories but it seems to follow one character, Nell, through her life (perhaps the fact that it is broken up into stories rather than written as one novel is what gives me that sense of distance?) I am not entirely convinced that Nell is always the same character, though she always shares similar characteristics (in one story older brothers pop up who have never been mentioned before~this is okay by me i think short stories only need to carry on their own continuity and perhaps that is why Atwood chose this form~it somewhat reminded me of the Rhoda Manning stories by Ellen Gilchrist~excellent stories i would love to read again but i think i loaned my copy out~besides which Atwood's short prose are some of my favourite books~as well as short stories in general it is a form which is slipping into obscurity.)
Anyway, that reminds me of a conversation that i had recently with a friend when we are talking about a collection of short stories we were both reading and he was picking and choosing those he wanted to read and in what order. I mentioned that i tended to read all the stories from front to back. He called me a purist. It caused me to ponder. I'm not sure why i do it that way (i don't always with an anthology~usually just a single author's collection) i suppose i'm thinking the author had some reason for putting them in that order~but then again, maybe the author had nothing to do with it and some editor just slapped them all together and i guess that's an oh well. Anyway this Particular collection does have a Particular order (and though i don't like to consider myself a conformist, conform i did.)
Many people have called this semi-autobiographical Atwood. I would really like to know if Margaret herself called it that because she usually balks at such labels, and i would definitely hesitate to call anyone's work semi-autobiographical though it should aways FEEL that way (else how would it feel real, how would it speak to you?) And Margaret Atwood's writing Always Speaks to me.

No comments: