Margaret Atwood thinks the unthinkable and takes 'the pledge'
Margaret Atwood brought her 3-month long, 7-country book tour, beginning in Edinburgh, Scotland, tweeting and blogging all the way to a grand finale at the opening night of the 2009 Miami Book Fair International, where she was greeted with a standing ovation from her legions of fans who stood on line on a Sunday night to hear her read and even sing. After introducing the main characters in her latest metaphysical masterpiece, Year Of The Flood (Nan A. Talese; September, 2009), Atwood proceeded to read passages from the dystopic novel in which we meet Toby, a woman barricaded in a spa with edible skin treatments; Ren, a young trapeze artist quarantined in the Scales and Tails sex club; and Adam One, the leader of a post-apocalyptic Christian sect called God's Gardeners, closing the reading with a singing performance of the Mole Day Children's Hymn. Taking questions from the audience, Atwood commented on winning the first Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, while differentiating science fiction about aliens and other planets from speculative fiction about the collapse of civilization in the not too distant future that could actually happen. Asked about the connections between The Year of the Flood and her previous novel, Oryx and Crake, published in 2003, Atwood described the metaphysical questions arising from the previous novel which drove her to write The Year of the Flood seeking answers. The Harvard-educated Canadian author reflected on the roots of her seemingly implausible writing career; provided clues about the actual landscape on which the dystopian setting for The Year of the Flood is based; offered advice to aspiring writers; and ruminated on her other interests, including protecting migratory songbirds from insecticides used to grow commercial coffee beans, at which point Atwood demanded that everyone raise their right hand and take the pledge to drink only special organic coffee.
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