Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer On Writing – Margaret Atwood (2002)


Margaret Atwood has written poetry, dystopian prose and essays for over five decades. She is a literary and a Canadian institution, and in 2002 she led a lecture series on writing. That series begat this book – broken into sections, as befits a lecture series, Negotiating is a collection of Atwood’s musings, along with historic assumptions and quotations from past and present authors. What is art? What is writing? Who is the reader? How does the reader change the writing? Who is the author writing for? Is freedom art? Is art freedom? Atwood asks many questions and often plays devil’s advocate to her own queries, attempting to look at both sides of a question. This book is markedly satirical, which one would expect from Atwood, at times prosaic, and alternately poetic. There is a small amount of autobiography in the first chapter, but rather than examining herself, Atwood attempts to view the author as an Other, and other than herself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found myself reaching for my notebook to copy down her quotable lines. I would highly recommend this book, most especially to writers, as we tend to find writing on the subject of writing to be interesting, in a navel gazing sort of way. (248 pages)

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