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October 27, 2010 7:04 AM   Subscribe

With her writing career clearly going nowhere, Margaret Atwood has turned to a new vocation: costume design.
posted by griphus (58 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is awesome.
posted by ninebelow at 7:06 AM on October 27, 2010


Super brilliant. A star.
posted by Summer at 7:09 AM on October 27, 2010


Not a huge fan, but that indeed is awesome.

Same for her duet with Robertson Davies of "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" at some PEN fundraiser (?) years ago, which my google-fu fails to reveal but I totally swear happened.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:17 AM on October 27, 2010


"... can one make a crown out of painkiller pills?"
posted by three blind mice at 7:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's pretty awesome.

Of course, Atwood is a geek. This is the woman who invented and promoted the LongPen, a remote autographing device designed to spare authors from travelling from bookstore to bookstore on book promo tours. Several writers did use it; you can see the list here, including an estimate of the CO2 saved by remote signing versus traveling to sign locally. Most of the authors listed still travel -- I'm looking at you, globe-trotting jscalzi! -- but it's a neat little device nonetheless. (Also: previously.)

Noted: that thing will never cradle the face of a fan it loves.
posted by maudlin at 7:32 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Capt. Renault: THAT SOUNDS AMAZING. I wish there were video! I found a reference to it here...

Margaret Atwood is great.
posted by cider at 7:39 AM on October 27, 2010


By coincidence I briefly exchanged words with A Famous Author on twitter earlier today... am now awaiting my superhero costume design.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2010


Fact: many Authors enjoy drawing people as super-heroes.
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Best. Thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:57 AM on October 27, 2010


They're not super-heroes. They're speculative crime fighters.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:57 AM on October 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


Before we get too enthusiastic abou the Dan David Prize... ahem
posted by aeshnid at 7:58 AM on October 27, 2010


I love Atwood and her books. I know people will inevitably show up here to bitch about how crummy they are, but about 75% of her books have kept me up reading wayyyy past my bedtime. The Year of the Flood rocked in all the ways in which I felt Oryx and Crake was deficient, making it easier for me to dig into the latter on re-read.
posted by hermitosis at 8:01 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Crummy? People actually think her books are crummy? I can't say I've enjoyed all of what I've read, but I'm actually shocked that there might be some question about her merits as a writer...
posted by bardophile at 8:07 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Atwood on her true vocation: Hockey Goalie.
posted by rocket88 at 8:09 AM on October 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


I love Margaret Atwood and (most of) Margaret Atwood's books (Surfacing, Robber Bride, eh), and this is eleven hundred kinds of awesome.

I haven't read Year of the Flood yet, but this makes me want to.

Kudos, Ms. Atwood. Clever, clever marketing. I bet shit like this sells more books than we realize.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bardophile, you need to spend some quality time reading wikipedia comments and buld up some callouses for this kind of thing. It doesn't matter how quality the experience - there is someone out there who will feel the need to say "Meh" or go out of their way to tell those that are into it that they need to get a life*.

*For values of life equal to randomly wandering the internet telling people they need to get a life.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:18 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her books aren't crummy, though she does get something of a free ride in terms of serious criticism because she's the grand dame of Canadian literature. Generally the people who think her books are "crummy" (actual typo: cummy) are those who had to read her work in high school and haven't revisited it since. You can make a reasonable and convincing case for disliking Atwood's work or finding it flawed or even mediocre, but calling it a word that implies it's utterly without merit (i.e., crappy, shitty, crummy, garbage) is just unjustifiable.

Funny, the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard this was a story I heard from a classmate who said a friend of hers worked for Margaret Atwood's lawyer, and that this friend would see Atwood come in to the office sometimes dressed rather strangely. One time she arrived in a purple leather suit. Given this, I couldn't wait to see what Atwood would come up with for a superhero costume.
posted by orange swan at 8:18 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


So when do we get an Atwood MMO? That should qualify for some sweet government funding.
posted by ODiV at 8:30 AM on October 27, 2010


You can make a reasonable and convincing case for disliking Atwood's work or finding it flawed or even mediocre, but calling it a word that implies it's utterly without merit (i.e., crappy, shitty, crummy, garbage) is just unjustifiable.

Thanks for phrasing it better than I did, orange swan.
posted by bardophile at 8:34 AM on October 27, 2010


This post is fun, and the costume design makes sense. One of the most memorable things about The Handmaid's Tale is all the costuming in it. Atwood has a knack generally for visual writing, for giving the reader a vivid image in the inner eye of what the characters are wearing. It figures that she'd costume herself in real life, too.
posted by bearwife at 8:36 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Those costumes are adorable! What a sweet thing to do.

My most recent Atwood experience is Margaret Atwood-endorsed coffee from Balzac's. It was pretty good, but it was no superhero costume.
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:45 AM on October 27, 2010


This really cheered up my day; thanks for the post!
posted by taz at 8:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


implies it's utterly without merit (i.e., crappy, shitty, crummy, garbage) is just unjustifiable.

I was 21, babysitting and my employer had a large collection of her work. Much of her stuff reads like masochistic fantasies and she can't resist using infidelity as a plot point. Also the edible woman is a TERRIBLE way to introduce teenage boys to feminism.

The only one of her pieces that I liked was "Rape fantasies" a short story, and that includes intentionally reading later work like Oryx and Crake to give her a fair shake. Way too much voyeuristic masochism.
posted by Phalene at 8:51 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Atwood sings with The Sadies
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only Atwood I've ever read is Oryx and Crake, and it was so good that I've been hesitant to move on to any other book of hers. It's damn hard to be both a gripping writer and a poetic one; I find that a lot of writers with excellent style constantly tread on their own narratives. With Oryx and Crake it was all one and the same.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:14 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Handmaid's Tale seems more relevant than ever, and my mother has finally forgiven me for recommending she read it (it gave her nightmares, but she went and saw the movie anyway, which only made them worse--and she didn't then and still doesn't see many movies).

Cat's Eye, while in many ways a searingly painful but beautifully rendered book, was a gift from my husband when it first came out. I couldn't put it down, even as a new mother of a baby girl (talk about mean girls!) and finished it on the way home from work, mistakenly leaving it behind on the subway. I always hoped whoever found it would read it too.

As an unrecalcitrant non-participant in facebook and/or twitter, I do like reading stories of the random connections which occur in those "places." Thanks for posting this.
posted by emhutchinson at 9:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I actually thought Oryx and Crake was not her best work, but I don't have the dislike for it that some SciFi folks seem to. I love her work, and I just think she's done better. The Blind Assassin, The Robber Bride, take your pick. I liked Oryx and Crake, don't get me wrong. I did think some of her SciFi cleverness in it wasn't as clever as she thought - don't get me wrong in either direction. When she's in top form, however, it's a different game entirely.

Even when she's not in top form she will still eat most writers for lunch, politely and with bitingly funny asides between courses. You may not like the socio-philosophic content of her work - that's always complicated. But I'm at a point in my life where I no longer bother arguing with someone who actually thinks she's not a great writer. It's like how I don't bother arguing about evolution anymore. Some things are not even worthy of being called "wrong".
posted by freebird at 9:27 AM on October 27, 2010


Oh, emhutchinson, I forgot about Cat's Eye. I'm not even a girl and that novel was still like therapy for certain high school memories.
posted by hermitosis at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2010


Phew, when Colleen Atwood hears about this, she is going to be maaaaaaaaad.
posted by Elsa at 9:48 AM on October 27, 2010


Cat's Eye actually sparked flashbacks of elementary school bullying for me. I couldn't sleep for several days. After years of having completely forgotten about it.
posted by bardophile at 9:50 AM on October 27, 2010


This got me wondering if she was related to Colleen Atwood. It doesn't appear so.
posted by bgrebs at 10:08 AM on October 27, 2010


I like the ideas behind Atwood's novels a lot better than I like her prose.

Her poetry, on the other hand, is fantastic.
posted by Zozo at 10:08 AM on October 27, 2010


This? This is nothing. Paul Krugman does my nails.

Seriously, though, this is awesome.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:16 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


HOLY MOTHER OF AWESOME, thank you griphus.

Cat's Eye as therapy: a thousand times yes.
posted by clavicle at 10:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is neat. Thanks for posting it!
posted by brundlefly at 10:26 AM on October 27, 2010


Oh my god, I love Margaret Atwood so much. She was the first poet I ever truly loved. Power Politics still kills me. I love how weird and brilliant and wonderful she is.

The only Atwood I've ever read is Oryx and Crake, and it was so good that I've been hesitant to move on to any other book of hers. It's damn hard to be both a gripping writer and a poetic one; I find that a lot of writers with excellent style constantly tread on their own narratives. With Oryx and Crake it was all one and the same.

You should. Handmaid's Tale and Robber Bride and Cat's Eye are three of the best books about women, ever. I actually didn't love Oryx and Crake that much, but I think it suffered a bit for what I thought it could be--it seemed to be a pale shade of her earlier speculative success in Handmaid's Tale.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Much of her stuff reads like masochistic fantasies and she can't resist using infidelity as a plot point.

Mm, that's an interesting way of looking at it, but other than, perhaps, her one earlier work that I've read (Surfacing), I'm not entirely sure I agree. I think what Atwood tends to do is to take a fairly dystopic look at the current gender relations between men and women, and her work is only "feminist" in so far as it explores those relationships, and particularly the way that women are complicit players in the patriarchal structures of our society. This is something that she looks at pretty unflinchingly (Handmaid's Tale is all about how women are the policers of moral behavior in religious fundamentalist societies), and she offers no answers--her books are a world away from what I'd easily call core feminist speculative texts, stuff like Joanna Russ. But are they fantasies? Isn't Zenia in The Robber Bride pretty much a villain? Or are we meant to admire the way that she manipulates those around her, especially men, to become a major player in the lives of both the men and women of her world? I'm not really sure what the answer is. You can read the poems in Power Politics as a story of victimization, but the speaker is clearly complicit in what's going on, and more, sometimes makes the man a victim, too--"Please die, I said/so I can write about it."

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think her books are really as simplistic as that. They're complicated and kind of ugly thematically. Though I probably agree that they shouldn't be used to introduce teenage boys to feminism.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Handmaid's Tale seems more relevant than ever

This, 10x. And this FPP is awesome.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:08 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am not an Atwood fan (my wife is) but I enjoyed reading The Year of Flood. I have no idea what that means.

Also, Margaret Atwood now has robots do her writing.
posted by srboisvert at 12:03 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked her really early work (Edible woman, Lady Oracle), then I didn't like her work anymore (Handmaid's Tale etc), then I liked it again (Alias Grace), then I didn't like it anymore. (Oryx and Crake etc). I also didn't used to like her very much (too crochety), but in recent years her sense of humour has been more evident to me (see rocket88's clip above) so I like her again.

Also, a lot of people think she invented to long pen so she wouldn't have to go on tours anymore. But it also makes it possible for her (and other authors) to "visit" places she wouldn't have gone to even she planned an extensive tour ie smaller towns and cities off the standard tour track.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:05 PM on October 27, 2010


the edible woman is a TERRIBLE way to introduce teenage boys to feminism

It also gave me, as a teenage girl, about a week's worth of something like an eating disorder. But I forgave her that and everything else for Cat's Eye, which is spot-on brilliant.

TCG, I didn't like her very much either, for similar reasons; but these costume designs are winning me over.
posted by tangerine at 1:02 PM on October 27, 2010


I adore Margaret Atwood. She's been one of my very favorite writers since I read Cat's Eye in English 201 as a Freshman. I think she's just brilliant. One of the top 5 contemporary writers I wish I could be. Just re-read The Robber Bride this summer. This post is awesome! Thanks!
posted by apis mellifera at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2010


I think I read the Blind Assassin this summer, but I honestly can't remember. Loved The Robber Bride and The Handmaid's Tale, and which one was the one about the sister who drove off of a bridge? (um, spoiler?)

I also have a strange habit of mixing up Atwood and Marge Piercy, who is another feminist sci-fi author.

In semi-related news, I've been replied to twice by Pat Kiernan from NY1 and Pat's Papers. I suspect it's the Canadian-ness of them in addition to the social media-ness of it.
posted by TrishaLynn at 3:06 PM on October 27, 2010


... which one was the one about the sister who drove off of a bridge? (um, spoiler?)

That was The Blind Assassin, IMHO her finest book. And it's hardly a spoiler when the very first sentence of the novel is, "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge."
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:47 PM on October 27, 2010


Oh, Alias Grace. Yes. Fantastic.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:49 PM on October 27, 2010


(but I must say I hated The Blind Assassin. No spoilers b/c the spoiler is both way obvious, totally ridiculous, and plain stupid.)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:49 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love Atwood. Cat's Eye was my own introduction to Atwood and yes, the first thing I ever read that dealt with both the effects of girl-bullying and with resultant self-harm (this is over 20 years ago now). In fact as a kid I used to peel the skin off the heels of my feet just as the protagonist of Cat's Eye does and it was one of those OH GOD I'M NOT ALONE moments for me. I think it touched a nerve for a lot of people in the same way.

I did my honours thesis on Atwood. Funny, though, I haven't finished a book she's written since Alias Grace. They don't grip me the same way. I don't know if it's me or her.
posted by andraste at 4:05 PM on October 27, 2010


I'm a big fan of Atwood. Everything I've read of hers has incisive insight, sometimes funny, sometimes cruel. I think she deserves a Nobel Prize.

I know many people who dislike her. They are annoyed because she is like Ms. Smarty-Pants: always proven right, and not shy about it. Such an un-Canadian lack of humilty.

Cat's Eye says some interesting things about bullying: it can be complex. A bullying dynamic can also make the bullied into bullies themselves.
posted by ovvl at 4:10 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


RE: Atwood crummyness near the beginning of the thread: A Handmaid's Tale is the only book I've ever hated. YM(will)V
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 4:21 PM on October 27, 2010


THIS IS ADORABLE
posted by raw sugar at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2010


Oh oh! I can recite one of her poems from memory!

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye
posted by jokeefe at 5:16 PM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


the edible woman is a TERRIBLE way to introduce teenage boys to feminism

Um, I don't think that she wrote it with that in mind.

It's not a feminist book, necessarily. It's a comedy.
posted by jokeefe at 5:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


jokeefe, that's a great poem. It's that wacky Margaret Atwood humour!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:41 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


@margaretatwood is my favourite 71 year old tweeter.
posted by furtive at 9:45 PM on October 27, 2010


There's no need to read A Handmaid's Tale. You'll be living it soon enough if things continue as they are.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 PM on October 27, 2010


It's time for your awkward threesome with Robert Duvall.
posted by ODiV at 11:50 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: You really believe that?
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2010


If the teabaggers, who have been acting with violence and are going to prevent voters from voting, get their way: yes.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on October 29, 2010


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