Quote for the Day: March 23rd, 2022

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Live in the present, make the most of it, it’s all you’ve got.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: March 22nd, 2022

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: March 21st, 2022

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

For the next few days, my Quote for the Day is going to be taken from The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s terrifying near-future dystopian novel about a woman named Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead who subverts the violent patriarchy that keeps her enslaved.

Gilead is the successor nation to the United States, which was defeated in a war that’s referenced in different parts of the novel. This gleaming new country is a theocracy where women exist in a caste system determined by their level of reproductive viability. Women who are of childbearing age and fertile are sex slaves in the houses of their Commanders, the men who are in charge of Gilead. Essentially, they’re on the same level as livestock, their worth tied exclusively to their output, i.e. children. They are forbidden to read, own property, or hold political office. They have no civil rights and are expected to remain silent, obedient, and modest.

With the surge of anti-abortion legislation sweeping the country, Atwood’s tale has never been more timely.

With the surge of anti-abortion legislation sweeping the country, Atwood’s tale has never been more timely. Abortion has been all but completely banned in the South and parts of the Midwest, and Roe v. Wade is under threat of being overturned. This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Dobbs challenges a Mississippi law that would ban the majority of abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. This draconian law would force pregnant people to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term in all but the most extreme cases of fetal deformity.

Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is an act of abject cruelty. The people who want to do this say they are acting in defense of the fetus, and let’s say for argument’s sake that that’s true. If these people are truly pro-life, let them put their money where their mouths are. If people are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, then we should also expand the social safety net by leaps and bounds. Increase funding for WIC, SNAP, HUD subsidies, welfare cash payments, and universal Pre-K-12 education. Pass common sense gun control laws. Pay reparations to the descendants of people who were enslaved. Institute a wealth tax and use the tax monies to create millions of jobs through a Green New Deal. Do all of that to show you are truly pro-life or shut up.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 24th, 2021

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

One person alone is not a full person: we exist in relation to others.

Margaret Atwood, The Testaments

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 15th, 2021

Power Politics by Margaret Atwood

[you fit into me] by Margaret Atwood

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

© 1971 Margaret Atwood. “you fit into me” originally appeared in Atwood’s collection Power Politics, which was published in 1971 by House of Anansi Books. Margaret Atwood (1939-) is one of the world’s most beloved writers with more than seventy published works to her credit. You can find a full bibliography of her works here.

Further Reading

Margaret Atwood’s 10 essential books (CBC Books; originally posted on October 9th, 2019)

Open Door: The World We Think We See Is Only Our Best Guess: A Conversation with Margaret Atwood by M. Buna (Poetry Foundation; originally posted on November 18th, 2020)

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: November 5th, 2021

In the end, we’ll all become stories.

Margaret Atwood

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time whatsoever then you know how much I love Margaret Atwood and her work. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that she was releasing a new collection of essays, Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2021, due to be published by Doubleday in March of next year. Until then I’ll be here not-so-patiently waiting.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 6th, 2021

Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood

In the Secular Night by Margaret Atwood

In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It’s two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.

Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it’s baby lima beans.
It’s necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You’d be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.

There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn’t now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.

© 1995 Margaret Atwood. “In the Secular Night” first appeared in Atwood’s collection Morning in the Burned House, which was published in 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. It is available to buy wherever books are sold.

There is also this exactitude, this precision, bound up in elegance and wit, which seems impossible to replicate. At the very least, I have never seen it outside of her work.

First and foremost, let me state here unequivocally that it is a travesty Margaret Atwood has yet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. That’s first. Next, I’d like to say that very few writers can scare me like Atwood can. She imbues every work of hers, be it novel, poem, or otherwise, with an otherworldly terror which is simply too close to reality for comfort. There is also this exactitude, this precision, bound up in elegance and wit, which seems impossible to replicate. At the very least, I have never seen it outside of her work.

Though her oeuvre is substantial, history will remember her primarily for her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Published in 1985, it tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, which has succeeded the United States’ government via violent overthrow and which treats women with viable uteruses like cattle, meant to be silent, acquiescent, and obedient in discharging their only purpose in life, which is to bare children for their Commanders. They are deprived of all agency and ruled over with an iron fist.

With a conservative-majority SCOTUS waiting like a salivating bloodhound to overturn Roe v. Wade and states like Texas rolling back reproductive rights and severely limiting abortion access, we are just a stone’s throw away from the world Atwood envisioned.

One could say Gilead is patriarchy on steroids, and they’d be right. Gilead looks too much like America in 2021 for my liking. With a conservative-majority SCOTUS waiting like a salivating bloodhound to overturn Roe v. Wade and states like Texas rolling back reproductive rights and severely limiting abortion access, we are just a stone’s throw away from the world Atwood envisioned. Let’s hope there are enough of us left in the world who stand for a woman’s right to choose.

Wow, I started off with a poem and ended up talking about The Handmaid’s Tale. You can certainly see my ADHD at work here, but what the heck? This is my blog and I’ll go off on whatever tangent I darn well please. Mazel tov, my friends.

To learn about how you can help support reproductive justice advocacy work, go to https://www.plannedparenthood.org.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: September 3rd, 2021

Every recorded story implies a future reader.

Margaret Atwood

Today’s quote by Margaret Atwood has been stuck in my brain ever since I first came across it. If memory serves me correctly, I believe it was in a new introduction by Atwood to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which if you haven’t already read, there’s no better time than the present.

The written word is our receptacle for memory. Without documentation, we have no history, no blueprint for the future, and no constancy to purpose in terms of our collective attempt at living what many philosophers have called the good life. Every time we write, we are holding in our psyches the implied future reader Atwood references. Even if we never write with the intention of publishing our work in mind, there is still a knowing behind committing your thoughts to paper, a compact between yourself and those who may stumble across your words in the future.

Without documentation, we have no history, no blueprint for the future, and no constancy to purpose in terms of our collective attempt at living what many philosophers have called the good life.

When I was a library worker, we got book donations all the time, oftentimes daily. Most of the books were, forgive me, ready for the rubbish bin, but every now and again a folded scrap of paper would fall out with someone’s gnarled script on it and I’d have a new treasure. Most of them I didn’t keep because they were things like checklists or grocery lists or other ephemeral scraps, but there’s one I still have in my possession: a decades-old scrap of notebook paper with a poem on it. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

I was the implied future reader. And this is how we are connected, invisibly and irrevocably.

Perhaps one day I’ll share it on here. The point is I have carried that poem in my heart for years and I don’t even know the author. Only a first name and a date are listed but I think about the writer often. In the poem, they are beseeching God for answers because they’ve lost something (or someone, more likely) dear to them. This person may be long gone by now, passed into eternity, but I still pray for them. I wonder how their life turned out. I was the implied future reader. And this is how we are connected, invisibly and irrevocably.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.