This year, for #MARM, we’re playing BINGO. How prepared am I? It depends… I am well prepared for a month of reading Atwood’s work, but I’m not sure how that’s going to translate to the Bingo grid.
The novel I chose to read this year is Hag-Seed, and I am happy to say I have already read it. So I can cross off my first box. I’m also armed with poetry, stories, and essays. I even have one of her graphic novels and a Graeme Gibson book on the way.
I have everything I need for the top line. Except time. I could do an “X”, or the four corners. I even thought about making the letter “N” for my name. Or a checkerboard pattern. Like Marcie, I seem to be heading for confetti-style, if only that were a thing.
For now, I will bask in my finished novel.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Let me start by saying that I have never read Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I have an idea of what happens, partly because I read Tempest Tost by Robertson Davies a few years ago and may have half-heartedly looked it up then. I thought about reading it first, but I really didn’t want to. So, instead, I consulted Sparks Notes every once in a while as I read the novel to see how things tied together.
I can see Hag-Seed being made into a slap-stick comedy. I found it highly entertaining with some scenes bordering on ludicrous (such as the revenge scene). Even the tragedy of Felix’s life didn’t strike me as tragic. We are never given the chance to think about it enough to feel sad.
Felix is “unhealthily obsessed” with putting on The Tempest at his town’s theatre. Besides the fact that he usually throws his all into his art, this time he is also hoping to “resurrect” his dead daughter, Miranda, in a way. (“What he couldn’t have in life he might still catch sight of through his art: just a glimpse from the corner of his eye.”) So when he is ousted from his position, he takes it hard and disappears. Not just for a while, either – for years. Stewing, and plotting his revenge on the men he holds responsible. (“Where had Felix gone? It was a mystery, but not one that anyone appeared dedicated to solving.”)
My favourite sections of the book are the ones that take place inside the prison. Particularly, the creative ways in which Felix, as the teacher, gets the prisoners involved in the process of reading, understanding, and acting out the Shakespeare play they perform once a year for the other inmates. For example, the only curse words the students are allowed to utter in class must come from the Shakespeare play. If the students are studying MacBeth they might say, “The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon.”
Watching the many faces watching their own faces as they pretended to be someone else – Felix found that strangely moving. For once in their lives, they loved themselves.
Don’t forget to check out Marcie’s plans for the month. We’ll see you back here next Monday for an update!
What are your MARM BINGO plans?
Margaret Atwood Reading Month is hosted here and by Marcie at Buried in Print and inspired by decades of reading Margaret Atwood’s words. From Sunday November 1st to Monday November 30th, we’ll be reading Margaret Atwood, and we invite you to join in!