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Publisher's Summary

What is the role of the writer? Prophet? High priest of art? Court jester? Or witness to the real world? 

Looking back on her own childhood and writing career, Margaret Atwood examines the metaphors which writers of fiction and poetry have used to explain - or excuse! - their activities, looking at what costumes they have assumed, what roles they have chosen to play. In her final chapter she takes up the challenge of the title: if a writer is to be seen as "gifted", who is doing the giving and what are the terms of the gift? Atwood's wide reference to other writers, living and dead, is balanced by anecdotes from her own experiences, both in Canada and elsewhere. The lightness of her touch is offset by a seriousness about the purpose and the pleasures of writing, and by a deep familiarity with the myths and traditions of western literature. 

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Quebec, Ontario, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College. Throughout her 30 years of writing, Atwood has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. Hew novel The Blind Assassin won the 2000 Booker Prize for Fiction. She is the author of more than 25 volumes of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include Alias Grace (1996), The Robber Bride (1994), Cat's Eye (1988), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), Surfacing (1972) and The Edible Woman (1970). Acclaimed for her talent for portraying both personal lives and worldly problems of universal concern, Atwood's work has been published in more than 35 languages, including Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic, and Estonian.

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Featured Article: The 10 Best Audiobooks on Writing


National Novel Writing Month—or NaNoWriMo, as the pros call it—is the one time every year you can be totally obsessed with your novel, live knee-deep inside your own stories, and no one can say anything about it! It is, in short, a creative writer's dream (or nightmare, depending on how well you write under pressure). Stories live inside all of us, and they matter. From fantastical epics to realistic shorts to flash-fiction, we each have our own wonderful story to tell. We hope this carefully selected list of the best audiobooks on writing will help you access your inner writer and get your story on the page.

What listeners say about On Writers and Writing

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l just love Margaret Atwood.

I really feel fortunate to get to benefit from Margaret Atwood's years worth of reading, and getting to hear tons of stories, prime and pieces through her lens. She really has a fascia way of looking at things.

22 people found this helpful

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Enlightened

Atwood's reading voice seems almost monotone & droll. And then very quickly her humor enchants; as does her encyclopedic knowledge of literature & the writing craft. Invaluable!

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A soft-spoken brilliance

What a delightful experience to hear calm brilliance, wit and musings from what must be a Canadian national treasure. Required reading I’m sure for anyone remotely inspired to putting creative pen to paper, this book is a beautiful meditation on the relationship of the written word (thus its Writer) to the readers of said word. Count me, late again, a new fan of Ms. Atwood and her ilk: the un-young and too un-sung.

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For writers and readers alike

This little memoir was enormously helpful and insightful. I struggled with Ms. Atwood's vocal frying, but I still think it was important to hear it in her voice.

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  • C. D. GRIFFITHS
  • 11-29-20

Good content, but didn't love the narration.

Whilst the contents of this book is good, a great author does not always equal a great narrator. A professional reader would have greatly improved this work in my view.

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  • TDP
  • 02-22-21

Disappointing

If you’re looking for a book in which Margaret Atwood gives you some of her own personal gems of wisdom on How To Write, then you will be disappointed and I advise you to stick with such books as Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.

This is more a collection of musings.

I’m nearly at the end of this audiobook and I honestly can’t think of a single concept worth remembering. That may be down to me not connecting with the material, in which case I hope you find what I didn’t.

In any case, the area where this book really falls down is the narration, which was already challenging after the first 20 seconds. She may be a skilled writer, but she is NOT a skilled orator. With just five levels of monotonous delivery, the fact that she was chosen to read this audiobook makes it a tedious endurance test.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-09-21

Atwood

Well this was the wrong choice for I have read other M Atwood stories and lived them this was difficult to listen to and boring I couldn’t listen for longer the about half an hour