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BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'

robomatic 06 Sep 19 - 07:05 PM
Joe Offer 07 Sep 19 - 02:13 AM
robomatic 07 Sep 19 - 02:08 PM
Helen 08 Sep 19 - 04:28 PM
peteaberdeen 08 Sep 19 - 05:48 PM
peteaberdeen 08 Sep 19 - 05:53 PM
Helen 08 Sep 19 - 06:50 PM
Charmion 09 Sep 19 - 11:22 AM
Helen 09 Sep 19 - 01:35 PM

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Subject: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: robomatic
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 07:05 PM

Saw a brief article in the NYT that Amazon had sent out a few books ahead of the official release date, and are being castigated for it.
But this is how I learned that Margaret Atwood's latest book "The Testaments" a sequel to "The Handmaid's Tale" is about to drop (or, for a few lucky Amazon shoppers has dropped.

I read "Handmaid's" not long after it appeared and, as a longtime science fiction reader, took it as as literary form of dystopian novel, and found it totally readable, not super engaging, because I felt: "I get it". It was a type of world that could occur with a type of scoial development (or disaster) coupled with biological developments (mass infertility). I'm pretty sure I saw the movie version back in the 90s. But I haven't got into the Hulu series because I've already done the plot - twice. Perhaps I'm unfair because the cast is first rate. But I have so much time and currently I'm binging on "Billions".

Margaret Atwood has a good pithy quote on the male/ female relationshiop of the 'how bad can it get' variety:

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Sep 19 - 02:13 AM

Amazon's not in the habit of releasing books and recordings before the official release date (this has frustrated me on occasion) so I tend to believe that the early release of The Testaments by
Amazon, was an honest mistake.
I will be interested in seeing reviews.
-Joe-

All Things Considered article


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: robomatic
Date: 07 Sep 19 - 02:08 PM

Interviewed this morning:

Margaret Atwood on Weekend Saturday with Scott Simon


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: Helen
Date: 08 Sep 19 - 04:28 PM

I read the original Handmaid's Tale novel and I thought it was dark but brilliant, but Margaret Atwood has been one of my all time favourite authors since I first picked up one of her novels (off the floor after if fell off the library shelf TWICE in front of me, when I was visiting a library colleague at another branch) in the early '80's. After that I ordered all of her novels for myself and for my library branch that I could get my hands on and read them all as soon as I could. I have re read many of them over the years.

I thought that HT was different, darker, dystopian compared with the other Atwood novels at that time, but her more recent MaddAddam books are a bit dark too.

I watched the 1990 movie with Natasha Richardson and thought it was a good match to the novel. I waited with anticipation for the TV series, re read the HT novel in preparation,and then found that the series did not match the novel as much as I thought it would and it just went on and on and on. I spent a fair bit of time fast forwarding the long, drawn out "atmospheric" bits and also the violent bits, especially in series one.

Then at the end of series one we still were nowhere near an ending so there had to be a series two. Same again at the end of series two so there has to be a series three.

Personally, I suspect that the cast and crew were having so much fun that they wanted to prolong the experience for as long as possible. Personally, I prefer the novel to the TV series. Atwood is so clever at conveying the ideas and the plot without having to spell it all out, and the ending of the novel leaves everything up in the air. In the novel, the final outcome could be ok to good, or bad to very bad. You don't know. You can only guess at possibilities. You can only hope.

The key message I got from the novel was that the main character just accepted everything that happened to her and never questioned the social right or wrong of what was happening in society. That was the scariest part because it seemed so likely and I see it in all sorts of social, work related and government related contexts. Most people don't seem to question the rights and wrongs around them and not many people stand up and try to right those wrongs.

The TV series had to spell everything out in the finest detail.

There were some good things about it, but for me it has been a conflicting experience. I will read Atwood's sequel, but I think it would be difficult for her to set aside what happened in the TV series so that she could just write what she has to say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: peteaberdeen
Date: 08 Sep 19 - 05:48 PM

i read the handmaid's tail when it came out and remembered enjoying but -too be honest i couldn't recal a lot of detail. i thought the first tv series was terrific - some great acting and a terrible, clammy atmosphere i felt really worked in suggesting how the characters were all trapped in a horrific situation. i gave up on the second series as it just seemed too much - too dark, too cruel and too upsetting with increasingly relevance to our modern world. my wife has watched it all and loved it - we watched the last episode together and i really enjoyed it - such a relief that there was some hope and more sense of another saner and safer world (a bit like how i see scotland in relation to the right wing coup underway in england now)

i'm looking forward to reading the sequel once fiona has finished it. i'm guessing it will be more directly political, hope so


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: peteaberdeen
Date: 08 Sep 19 - 05:53 PM

hi helen - i've tried to get going with a few of margaret atwood's books but got bogged down and gave up before long (apart from HT) are there any you would recommend as more accessable? well easier....i don't need pictures but some dialogue and humour helps to keep the pages turning. cheers, pete


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: Helen
Date: 08 Sep 19 - 06:50 PM

Hi pete,

I think Atwood's novels are more like an evolving "experience" and an awakening awareness rather than a plot driven story. A lot like Hermann Hesse, in my opinion, e.g. The Glass Bead Game, Narziss & Goldmund, etc. There is a plot but it isn't gripping and action packed.

The first novel I read was Surfacing (the one which fell off the shelf at my feet - thank you, Universe!) which is very much about an evolving awareness by the main character about her life and her self and her significant relationship.

Probably my favourite would be The Robber Bride because it is about a group of women who had a mutual friend, now deceased, and the group are reevaluating the impact of that woman on each of their lives. It was made into a movie with the beautiful and inimitable Susan Lynch in the role of Charis. Think of a group of people witnessing an incident and each having a different version of events.

After watching the HT movie which was screened on the same TV channel the week after season two of HT finished, I read a bit about it and one of the comments by Natasha Richardson was that she wanted the voiceover comments from the main character's thoughts to be added to the movie but the producer disagreed. In my opinion, that is what the book and the TV series were about. It showed the impact of external social and political events on the individual living through the experience.

Atwood's novels might not be your cup of tea, but if you approach them from the perspective of internal awareness and growth of the characters you might enjoy them.

The only one I wasn't so fussed about was Alias Grace, but maybe I should re-read it and give it a second chance. Looking at her list of novels, I realise I am lagging behind because there are a couple that I did not know about. I'll have to chase those up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: Charmion
Date: 09 Sep 19 - 11:22 AM

Atwood is a bit of a secular saint of the liberal intelligentsia in Canada, and she could easily have sunk into smug satisfaction at her exalted status. Instead, she is both relentlessly creative, rarely repeating herself, and sternly productive, churning out book after fascinating book. I have been reading her stuff since a copy of "Survival" came my way back about 1974, and I look forward to "The Testaments" with interest.

One of her most interesting works is Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, the published version of her Massey Lectures series delivered in 2008 at the height (or depth) of the banking crisis. I recommend it to anyone interested in the philosophy that underpins her novels.


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Subject: RE: BS: Margaret Atwood: 'The Testaments'
From: Helen
Date: 09 Sep 19 - 01:35 PM

Thanks Charmion, I'll have a look at that book. I haven't read any of Atwood's non fiction books so this might be a new adventure for me.


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