Negotiating With The Dead
By Margaret Atwood
Completed November 5, 2008
Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer on Writing was a scholarly study about writers, readers and the stories that connect them, written by Margaret Atwood. A collection of six essays based on a series of lectures given by Atwood at Cambridge University, it’s an intelligent look into what makes writers tick and the challenges faced by the writer, especially female ones.
Each essay examined a different aspect of the writing process, such as dealing with fame, mingling with the dead and the conversation between the writer and his/her reader. Atwood added many stories from her past, which I found the most fascinating. She also included lots of references to other writers and poets, including Dante, Shakespeare, Alice Munro and Adrienne Rich – to help strengthen her many thoughts about writing.
This book reminded me Joyce Carol Oates’ The Faith of a Writer. Both books require concentration and offer provocative questions about the art of writing. Fans of Atwood may be turned off by her academic tone in Negotiating With The Dead, but if you can follow along and love to read about writers, then this collection by Atwood is a must-read.