This past weekend I had the chance to hear Margaret Atwood speak not just once but twice. Omaha Public Library arranged her visit to coincide with National Library Week (yay and thank you to whoever managed to swing such a notable and famous author as Margaret Atwood!). I knew I would be attending her public appearance on Sunday afternoon, but when a friend asked if I would like to be her guest at a fundraising event on Saturday evening featuring Margaret Atwood I cheerfully accepted (wary as I am of being such an introvert dropped into a roomful of people I don't know). If there is anyone I would set aside shyness for, it's Margaret Atwood.
You probably already know this, but she's really amazing. She's got such a quiet yet powerful presence. I know how talented she is as a writer, but she's extremely articulate and funny, too. She's almost a little deadpan in her presentation and then she'll drop in a comment or facial expression that set off the entire audience in fits of laughter. I wish I had a video to share with you. But I did take a few photos.
The event was held at one of the branch libraries (my first time visiting this one by the way) and was beautifully decorated. As tickets sold out quickly I was really fortunate to have been able to go and hear Margaret speak. And she gave quite a long talk--about her love of libraries, referring to the budget cuts (and debacle that ensued) in her own city of Toronto a few years back, as well as a bit about her own experience with libraries and even a little advice to burgeoning writers. She's a great advocate for the necessity of libraries. How fitting her speech, too, in light of the books she's written and how close to reality some of them come (and the direction so many cities faced with budget cuts seem to be headed).
She was gracious enough to sign not just one but two books for me.
On Sunday there was a free reading and book signing that was open to the public.
She read a few excerpts from the MaddAddam books and did a very brief Q&A and then signed books. It was all a little whirlwind as she was on a tight schedule, which made me especially thankful I was able to spend more time hearing her speak the night before.
I've not yet read the MaddAddam trilogy (will be rectifying that of course), though I have read quite a few of her earlier books (I had a Margaret Atwood binge in the late 80s and early 90s). I'm only peripherally familiar with the plots of the novels, but apparently the story has been staged before and there must have been something going on this past weekend elsewhere, so in honor of that the audience was treated to Margaret Atwood performing three of the hymns from the books accompanied by the composer himself, Orville Stoeber. How many people can brag about seeing seeing Margaret Atwood on stage and bringing the music to life?
Needless to say it was an exciting and very bookish weekend for me.
Are you curious which books I had signed? I chose the first book I ever read by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale (which I have read at least three times) and my favorite novel by her, The Blind Assassin, which I think is due for a reread now!
However will I top this?