Review: Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood

41MC4ME69XLTitle: Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

Author: Margaret Atwood

Rating: 5/10

Genre: Memoir


What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? A high priest of the god Art? An improver of readers’ minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these mysterious readers? In this wise and irresistibly quotable book, one of the most intelligent writers now working in English addresses the riddle of her art: why people pursue it, how they view their calling, and what bargains they make with their audience, both real and imagined.

Perhaps some of my disappointment with this book comes from the fact that I was expecting something much different. Negotiating with the Dead is written in a mix of philosophy and memoir that comes together as hit or miss. Every chapter is mirrored after lecturs given by Atwood, but she finds ways to weave them together.

I expected a lot more about honing the craft of writing in this book, but there wasn’t much, if any. While I don’t go out of my way to read philosophy, I still enjoy it from time to time. I think what drives me away from these types of books is the often pretentious and flowery language used, which is abundant in Atwood’s novel. While sometimes I would be thinking to myself, “Yes, that’s right. That’s brilliant,” other times I would have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. and skipping pages.

It could be that this book just isn’t for me; I’m a story-driven person. I found myself enjoying Atwood’s musings on her growing up far more than I did anything else in the book.  If you’re the type of person who enjoys discussing the philosophy behind art, this might be the book for you. However, it was too inconsistent for me to truly enjoy.

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