Happy Birthday, Margaret Atwood!

None of her books are on our official reading list, but we love Margaret Atwood and are pretty sure that Daria would, too! (How could she not love dystopian speculative fiction?) Today is Atwood’s 75th birthday, so to celebrate, here is a photo of her sporting a mustache in honor of former Canadian astronaut and author Chris Hadfield at the Toronto International Book Fair.

We highly recommend everything she has ever written. Also, check out this list from BookRiot with 75 Reasons Why Margaret Atwood is Awesome, her recent interview with Goodreads, her Reddit AMA from last year, and read her new book Stone Mattress.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

penelopiad_coverIt’s no secret that here at Sick Sad Book Club that we love modern adaptations of classic works! Some of my favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a telling of Austen’s classic peppered in with attacks from the undead and The Wide Sargasso Sea, a preface to Bronte’s Jane Eyre that follows the origins of Mr. Rochester’s first wife. What are some of your favorites?
I have also come across another gem in the genre in recent years. Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad is an expansion on Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. This novella follows Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, in the afterlife. She tells her side of the story of what happened while Odysseus was gallivanting all around the world. She particularly focuses on her hatred of the “bold Hussy” Helen and the tale of the maids killed by Odysseus upon his return. Penelope is a hilariously dark and moving storyteller, very different than that cleaver waif portrayed in Homer’s classic.
I first listened to this book as an audio book. I highly recommend this! The performance of the different parts, especially the sections by the maids, is highly theatrical and very well done! It doesn’t hurt that Atwood is a brilliant writer who scripts out complex, weaving narratives.helen
I think that Helen Morgendorffer would feel kindred with Penelope. She shares the same hatred and disdain for Helen of Troy as Helen does of her sister Rita. I could just hear her say, “Yes, I think Helen was unreasonable! To think, having a nation fight for her! Reminds me of someone else I know…”