And now, Margaret Atwood. What a wonderful, brilliant and hugely entertaining woman!!!
Atwood’s new novel, The Year of the Flood, takes us through the years leading up to the “waterless flood” that wipes out most of humanity. (If you read Oryx and Crake you know what I’m talking agout. If you haven’t read it yet, get a copy right away and start reading.)
The narrators of the current book are two survivors: Ren, a young trapeze dancer at Scales & Tails, a sex club; and Toby, an herbalist at AnooYou Spa, a day treatment center for rejuvenation. Both women had spent time as members of God’s Gardners, a “green” religious cult. Each section of the book begins with a sermon by Adam One, the leader and founder of God’s Gardeners. The sermon is followed by a hymn from the “God’s Gardeners Oral Hymn Book. Each sermon and hymn honor one of the religion’s many saints ranging from Saint Francis to Saints Rachel Carson, Saint Euell Gibbons, Saint Dian Fossey and more. (The hymns have actually been put to music and are available on a CD by Orville Stoeber.)
At Town Hall in Seattle on Wednesday evening, Ms. Atwood talked about the book and then read a passage by Ren, a passage by Toby and one of Adam One’s sermons. Then she sang and danced along to a recording of three of the hymns. She read a little more and the presentation concluded with one final sermon and the “Hymn to the Water Shrew” in honor of Predator’s Day, one of God’s Gardeners special feast days. There were several questions before she graciously signed copies of her books for most of the fans in the audience.
As I read the book and listened to Ms. Atwood, I became more and more impressed with her absolute genius at creating this very frightening, yet totally believable, world of the not too distant future. It’s 1984, The Road, and more. Genetic engineering of plants and animals are the norm; corporations and government have merged; fast food restaurants serve Secret Burgers (you don’t want to know what kind of protein they contain) and Happicuppa; prisoners serve time in Painball and it goes on and on. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this book and start reading.
One more thing about Margaret Atwood, who has written more than forty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. She is so passionate about a number of causes that she auctions off naming rights for characters in her books at charity fundraisers and she made everyone in the audience pledge to drink only shade grown organic coffee because the others are leading to the demise of the songbirds. That’s even more reason to support her by buying her books.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
2009-09 – Hardcover
Nan A. Talese