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Book Who's Talking...Margaret Atwood

Wednesday 29th Oct 2014

Danielle Culling

Book Who's Talking...Margaret Atwood

Welcome ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, to the first in our series of interviews with some of our favourite authors. We have got some treats lined up for you! Today, opening the show, none other than the marvellous Margaret Atwood!


I vividly remember the first time I read Atwood. At school we studied The Handmaid’s Tale and despite the general classroom clatter going on I was utterly transported. The moment that stayed with me was Nick putting his shoe clad foot against Offred’s and her feeling as if this is skin to skin contact. This tiny moment between two people that is amplified has stuck with me years later.


With an impressive canon of fiction, essays, poetry and stories for children, when asking readers for their favourite Atwood you can get a wealth of answers. Personally Alias Grace is my number one; on the hunt for something to read I found the burnt orange covers nestled between my mam’s bookshelves and was hooked from day one. Let us know which is your favourite on twitter using #bookwhostalking and let the book debates begin!


At the bottom of our interview with Margaret you will find a link to all of her books and the fabulous titles she mentions below.


Now over to the lady herself, settle in and enjoy!


1)            If you were to be stuck in a lift for three hours with any character from literature, who would it be?


Someone entertaining who could talk a lot. How about the Wife of Bath?



2)            What was the last book that produced an outpouring of emotion in you? A snort of laughter or tears into a handkerchief?


Snort of laughter?  Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant!  It’s comics. Though comics based on classic novels and historical events.


3)            Which book do you really wish you had written?!


Not sure. The ones I really like… I’m only happy other people wrote them. Because I could not have.



4)            What book did you make your parents read and re-read to you when you were younger?


I couldn’t “make” my parents do anything!  But the Beatrix Potter books were very popular with us when we were little.


5)            What one passage from any book you have read has always stuck with you and why?


“They live too near the rocks to quarrel with their neighbours.” Let’s see if you can place it.  Or to make it easier” “Call me Ishmael.”  Or even: “It was the beating of his horrible heart.” Or perhaps, “I always wondered who she was writing to, up there in the sky.” *(we're not sure which this last one is from Margaret, do any of our readers have a clue?!)*


6)            What is the current read on your bedside table?


There’s a stack. I’m enjoying Wright’s closely-argued The Evolution of God. But let’s say William Gibson’s The Peripheral, because I’ve just been asked to review it.


7)            We know you are not meant to judge a book by its cover but we all do, so confess…tell us which book you read purely down to aesthetics, and did it live up to your expectations?


Moby-Dick. I liked the Norman Rockwell whale on the front. But that was when I was @ 9. I read away at it then but didn’t understand it much until later, except for the descriptions of the whales and the murder/revenge story.


8)            You meet a person who is not a reader at all but they’re prepared to give it a go with your ONE suggestion….what book do you press into their hands?


How old are they? What do they like? What gender are they? What country are they from? And so on.


Teen-age boys… hard to go wrong with Stephen King. Or maybe The Sword in the Stone, for the more mythically-minded.

Teen-age girls … maybe something with adventure and a resourceful central character, such as the Hunger Games series. They also take quite well to Dracula, oddly enough.


Younger kids:  maybe something like the Harry Potter books. Awful schoolmates paired with wish-fulfilment powers.


Adults: that would very much depend on their interests – fiction or non, historical or not. Etc. Men might go for John Keegan’s excellent war analyses, such as Field of Battle and Masks of Command. Or maybe northern exploration.. try John Geiger’s Frozen in Time, for instance. If you can deal with gruesome photos.


History lovers:

Mary Renault’s The King Must Die  or indeed Hilary Mantels’  Thomas Cromwell series… we’re all pretty fascinated by those Tudors, if in the English-speaking world.


Thank you so much to Margaret for taking part, I think everyone will agree she has started the series brilliantly! As promised, here are a list of the books that she has mentioned above and her own wonderful works so you can all delve further!


Book Who's Talking...Margaret Atwood List

Book Who's Talking...Margaret Atwood

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