I met Margaret Atwood yesterday. I still can't believe I just typed that. I saw a few weeks ago that she was appearing at the Brattle St. Theatre in Harvard Square before a showing of the movie based on her epic book The Handmaid's Tale. I bought 2 tickets immediately and eagerly anticipated the event. Since we are moving in 2 weeks, the 2 hardcover copies of The Robber Bride I keep in my library as my go-to birthday gift are packed away in storage, so I had to visit the Harvard Coop to pick up a couple of paperbacks in case I was lucky enough to get an autograph. My dear friend agreed to go with me and we waited in line to get in, and got some excellent seats a few rows back near the middle. I was sitting there, waiting for the show to start, when I realized that Margaret Atwood was seated 10 feet away across the aisle, and only 1-2 people were waiting to talk to her! I immediately scrambled into the ad hoc line and chatted with the woman in front of me about how awesome Margaret Atwood is. She mentioned that she felt she was a Canadian national treasure. I grabbed my purse from my friend so I could try to get a photo, which the girl in front of me took and I reciprocated. I gave her my card so she could email me for her photo.
When I got to sit next to Ms. Atwood, I said what an honor it was to meet her, and told her that she is my all-time favorite author. I said that I wrote my honors English thesis at Bates College about The Robber Bride and The Handmaid's Tale, and that I'd won a grant to travel to Toronto to photocopy her original manuscripts so I could analyze the notes. She replied, "That sounds like a lot of work!"As she signed my books, she commented on my name, Charis "like the character in The Robber Bride," and I told her, yes, that's why I originally read the book, except you pronounce my name Charis not Karis like the character. Fortunately, I had practiced what I would tell her with my friend over dinner at the Beat Hotel, a poorly named bar and not hotel but a good restaurant around the corner (try the buffalo cauliflower appetizer!). The practice run alleviated some of the jitters and allowed me to be slightly less starstruck in the face of greatness.
We watched The Handmaid's Tale, which stood up better than I expected. Atwood's introduction of the movie was so insightful. She mentioned that the voiceovers of Natasha Richardson were removed, which was supposed to convey an inner dialogue, and that the late actress had been annoyed about this because she thought it made the silences that had been voiced over seem awkward. She also mentioned that many people were disappointed with the ending, which deviated from the original. Lastly, she told the audience that a TV series of The Handmaid's Tale is in the works! I was on cloud nine the entire evening, and still am! I'm going to try to find out how to get in touch with my Bates English thesis advisor so I can share this blog and photo.
Thanks to Marie for suggesting this blog topic!