Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 to 2021

Doubleday. Mar. 2022. 496p. ISBN 9780385547482. $30. LIT
Reading Atwood’s newest collection of 62 essays and pieces from 2004–21 is like chatting with a smart friend about life, reading, and writing. Atwood introduces some literary characters and authors to the chat: the Wizard of Oz, Dr. Frankenstein, Scrooge McDuck, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Rachel Carson, Alice Munro, Stephen King—to name a few. Discussion topics include the environment, politics, feminism, fashion, television, movies, authors, and Atwood’s own poetry and historical and dystopian fiction. Atwood writes without anger or animosity, but with reason about important concerns and popular interests. Atwood guides readers through her works in numerous essays. Some entries are dedicated pieces such as “Reflections on The Handmaid’s Tale” (2015) and “Oryx and Crake” (2018). Mentions of Atwood’s other writings are throughout the collection, such as Cat’s Eye in “Shakespeare and Me” (2016) and Alias Grace in “We Hang by a Thread” (2016). Atwood also pays tribute to her partner Graeme Gibson with inclusion of the foreward to a new release of The Bedside Book of Birds (2020) and numerous mentions of their walks and travels.
VERDICT This book will start conversations. Highly recommended for Atwood followers and writing students; it’s a gift of good works.
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