Last week, having read Hag-Seed, I got to mark off one box on the Bingo grid. This week, I mark off two more. But, looking at the grid, they really couldn’t be less useful for forming some sort of line or pattern.
Some of you might be surprised to hear that I decided to try Atwood’s graphic novel, Angel Catbird. Maybe not as surprised as some might have been to discover that Atwood was writing one in the first place.
In the introduction to the graphic novel–probably my favourite part of the book–Margaret Atwood talks about her life-long interest in reading and creating comics. Who knew?
Why is a nice literary old lady like me–an award-winning nice literary old lady–a nice literary old lady who should be resting on her laurels in her rocking chair, being dignified and iconic–why is such a nice old lady messing around with flying cat-owl superheroes and nightclubs for cat people, not to mention giant rat men? Strange.
Check out this article in which Margaret reflects on her This Magazine comic strip Kanadian Kultchur Komics.
Angel Catbird is a story about a man who, because of a freak accident, turns into a human who is also part cat and part bird. The interesting thing about this is his contradictory feelings/instincts – should he eat the bird, or save the bird? Of course, there is a villain (part human, part rat) and a love interest (part human, part cat). What Angel Catbird has going for him are his wings.
I did end up enjoying the novel, and the illustrator is obviously very talented, but to say that I’m dying to find out what happens next (in volumes 2 and 3) would be an overstatement. Curious might be a better word. Maybe next year I’ll find out if Muroid’s rat army is a success…
There is one more aspect to Atwood’s graphic novel project, and that is science and conservation. Along the bottom of some of the pages you can find statistics put out by Nature Canada who are running a #safecatsafebird campaign to “urge cat owners not to let their cats range freely”.
I enjoyed the “extras” at the end of the book: catbird art by other artists; sketches and ideas by Johnnie Christmas, and the colour process by Tamra Bonvillain. The last panel shows drawings made by Margaret herself!
The other thing I read this week was Atwood’s short story Bluebeard’s Egg. I couldn’t resist after reading that Marcie once thought “it was e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.” Will she still think so after a re-read?
Bluebeard’s Egg is mainly a reflection of Sally on her husband Ed – why she picked him, why she loves him. And this is the kind of thing I find irresistible. Especially after she says she loves him because he’s stupid; not despite being stupid, but because.
For it must be admitted: Sally is in love with Ed because of his stupidity, his monumental and almost energetic stupidity: energetic, because Ed’s stupidity is not passive… It fills her with wonder that the world can contain such marvels as Ed’s colossal and endearing thickness.
On good days she sees his stupidity as innocence, lamb-like, shining with the light of (for instance) green daisied meadows in the sun… On bad days though, she sees his stupidity as wilfulness, a stubborn determination to shut things out. His obtuseness is a wall, within which he can go about his business, humming to himself, while Sally, locked outside, must hack her way through the brambles with hardly so much as a transparent raincoat between them and her skin.
But then again, “Possibly Ed is not stupid. Possibly he’s enormously clever.”
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!