What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? A high priest of the god Art? An improver of readers’ minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these mysterious readers? In this wise and irresistibly quotable book, one of the most intelligent writers now working in English addresses the riddle of her art: why people pursue it, how they view their calling, and what bargains they make with their audience, both real and imagined.
To these fascinating issues Margaret Atwood brings a candid appraisal of her own experience as well as a breadth of reading that encompasses everything from Dante to Elmore Leonard. An ambitious artistic inquiry conducted with unpretentiousness and charm, Negotiating with the Dead is an unprecedented insider’s view of the writer’s universe.
“A delight. . . . Frank and spirited. . . . A clear-eyed glance into the shadows where writers work and live.” —The Washington Post Book World
“An engaging book–erudite yet informal, playfully witty yet down to earth.” —Los Angeles Times
“Smart, deeply humane, courageous. . . . I have never come across a single book that more elegantly goes to the heart of the craft and its demands. . . . Hooray for Atwood!” —Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun
“This amazing woman’s voice, this fine writer’s constant example, is extraordinary.” —The Boston Globe
“A refreshing change from other books on writing.” —Columbus Dispatch
“[Negotiating with the Dead] is what every reader wants, a learned distillation of world lit and myth as viewed by that endangered species, a working writer; 219 pages, each guaranteed entertaining, to say nothing of edifying.” —The Miami Herald
“Atwood is the leading Canadian author and one of the most eminent women writing in English. Neither category meant as much before she inhabited it. . . . [She] plunges into matters that have beguiled readers and writers since Gilgamesh engraved his story on a stone.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A pleasure to read: erudite, talky, with a heady humour.” —Daily Telegraph
“Charming. . . . [Atwood] teases, probes, tickles, punches and enlightens. . . . She wades into mythology with . . . ease . . . and sweeps across Western literature with casual erudition. You get to see the muscle of her mind, in its leapfrogging and hopscotching, making strange and original connections veiled in playfulness. . . . Atwood is a writer who has scratched her name on the tablet of the English language. She belongs to the world.” —The Globe & Mail
“A bracing performance.” —Women’s Review of Books
“Engaging food for thought for all those wo care about writers and writing. . . . Atwood allows her wit to shine on almost every page.” —Library Journal