Friday, April 28, 2006

More from my library run

Another book I found was one I'd been thinking of looking for, but there it was in new books, The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. It's Penelope's story--waiting for Odysseus, hearing the stories, waiting, with that interesting feminist (in a good way) twist of Atwood's. It's interesting to me because during the BAD TIME (one good thing about that time is I did a lot of writing of which I'm still proud) I read and used a lot of myths in my poetry. I've just begun reading it. I don't love it yet--I'll have to see where it goes. It's a little petty in it's treatment of Helen, but then I might be too were I Penelope. I think Atwood's last two books were amazing. I've read most of her fiction, and I've always enjoyed her plots, but I've often found some of her characters and their motivations a little stiff, unemotional and unengaging. I never really believed the women in A Handmaid's Tale even though the plot was fascinating if heavy handed and the women of Cat's Eye, while I related to many of their actions still seemed a little cold. In contrast I think The Blind Assassin was painfully sad. I wept for all of the doomed characters. I could see myself living those lives or feeling those feelings and doing the same stupid things. Oryx and Crake is so amazing on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. The plot line is terrifying and plausible. The characters and their actions still completely human. It's one of the few times that I've felt her men weren't just representations of things. Even the say "villain" of the piece is trapped in the world in which he lives with the mind and the pain that he's been born with. I understand his actions and we understand why despite his brilliance he is still trapped by emotion. I made my husband read it and he would just turn to me sometimes and say, "Wow." So we'll see what her Penelope learns. Meanwhile here's my take on Penelope and Helen (see the next post for my thoughts on posting my own work.)

Faith in Our Fathers

And yet, was Agamemnon an innocent,
sacrificing Iphigenia
for his freedom?

And yet, is Clytemnestra unredeemed,
as abandoned as Penelope
but not as strong?

And even as Orestes and Telemachius
defended the memory of their fathers,would they have welcomed them back?

From a longer piece entitled "Instead of Epistles"

Some girls thoughÂ…

Oh, I envy you.

Cleo, where on earth did you learn to play the game?
You played the players back with the hand you were given plus a few from under the table.
And when your bluff was called, you folded with good grace, and still on your terms.

Lizzie, I don't know how this lonely, little girl who could have, should have had such issues
Beat them all, like she beat the fever--scarlet queen--a scarlet theme.
How did you manage to stay unmarried and uncaged--it sat so poorly on your mother's head

Oh, Ladies, I want to know, did you ever doubt? Did you ever believe?
Were you cold, and sore, from whalebones, and knitting needles, jewels, and children.
What made you human? What made you stop? What made you go on?

Helen, and you other pretty girls I do not envy you, not even for your beauty.
It bore much too high a cost. Pretty girls, even in fiction, Tess, for instance
Especially if standing poor, were like the best fruit, waiting to be seized.

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