This book is based on a series of lectures (the Empson lectures) that Atwood gave on writing. She describes them in the Introduction as being "about the position the writer finds himself in; or herself, which is always a little different." I am a great admirer of Atwood's novels and found this volume very interesting as a peek at the person behind the stories. One of the lectures addresses the issue of the Wizard of Oz and whether you want to see behind the curtain.
"But deep down I was not a rationalist. I was the youngest and weepiest of the family, frequently sent for naps due to fatigue, and thought to be sensitive and even a bit sickly; perhaps this was because I showed an undue interest in sissy stuff like knitting and dresses and stuffed bunnies. My own view of myself was that I was small and innocuous, a marshmallow compared to the others. I was a poor shot with a 22, for instance, and not very good with an ax. It took me a long time to figure out that the youngest in a family of dragons is still a dragon from the point of view of those who find dragons alarming." (p. 9)
This was a thought provoking book and well worth reading, especially if you are interested in how authors across time and space are in conversation with each other through their work.
This title counts toward the Canadian Reading Challenge.