Debt Spreads Everywhere - Including to Margaret Atwood

Early in my highschool days, I was introduced to Margaret Atwood by an English teacher who pushed “The Handmade’s Tale” on us. It was part of a section on Canadian Fiction and together with a book of short stories which I think was titled “Inside Stories” though I can’t find a record of it anywhere online.

I still have a feeling that if I’d started with any other of Atwood’s work, I’d never have become a reader of her work but that novel peaked my interest and over the years, I did read a number of her short stories, essays and even a number of other books (my favourites include “The Robber Bride” and “Alias Grace”) but by the late 90’s, I’d lost interest. I had a run-in with the author at an event and what happened forever tarnished my blind and youthful admiration of the woman.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been meaning to revisit her work, particularly “Oryx and Crake” which has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years, but whenever I think I’ll get to it, something else comes up. Aside from that, something else has become quite clear to me: Atwood is a great thinker. I don’t mean just a great storyteller but, as with many successful artists, she looks at things from outside the box. I first caught a glimpse of this after seeing her talk about religion but her most recent work has really cemented that thought for me.

Her most recent work “Payback: Debt as Metaphor and the Shadow Side of Wealth”, a non-fiction collection of speeches which the CBC has adopted into Massey Lecture Series, looks at debt not from the perspective of the people, feelings and emotions behind it rather than the money itself – or so I gather from this great interview with TIME which appeared online today.

After reading that short interview, I’ve decided to put my prejudice aside and before the end of the month, I’ll be making the trip into the bookstore to pick up my very own copy of “Payback.” It should make for an interesting read.


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