Category Archives: Mailbox Monday

Margaret Atwood in Pittsburgh


Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, along with the Carnegie Library, has an awesome series of authors who come to speak. Margaret Atwood is the second speaker my mom and I have seen this year. I have read many of Atwood’s books over the years, although I skipped her recent MaddAddam trilogy. I guess it’s going to be on HBO, though.

Margaret Atwood

Atwood talked a bit about Canadian politics in light of the recent election, before moving on to her new novel, The Heart Goes Last. Set in a time of economic collapse, it is the story of how Stan and Charmaine become inmates in the Positron prison system every other month in return for jobs and a place to live. She spoke about the inspiration behind the story. She had researched prisons and the penal system for an earlier novel and that, along with  the current trend of privatizing prisons, came together. She talked a bit about the history of prisons, from dungeons that basically served to hold people for ransom to debtors prisons (stupid idea) to penal colonies like Australia, where the bar for imprisoning women was lowered to meet a quota for incarcerating females.

The Heart Goes Last started on-line as a serial and Atwood spoke a bit about the history of writing serial fiction, of course mentioning Dickens and how he would sometimes take feedback from readers when drafting his stories. I really enjoyed how she took the past, whether it be prisons or writing, and connected it to the now.

The new book begins with an epigraph that consists of quotes from three texts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Pygmalion and Galatea,” and “I Had Sex with Furniture.” Atwood says the epigraph is like the piece’s key signature. It set the tone and range of the book. I’m looking forward to reading it. She was an interesting speaker and took several questions from the audience. I really enjoyed the evening.

I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday, because two books found their way home with me. A signed copy of The Heart Goes Last came with the ticket and I picked up a copy of Stone Mattress while I was there – I couldn’t resist.

Margaret Atwood books

Margaret Atwood in PittsburghThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Published by Nan A. Talese on September 29th 2015
Genres: Speculative Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
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Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

Margaret Atwood in PittsburghStone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
Published by Anchor on June 23, 2015
Genres: Short Story
Pages: 289
Format: Paperback
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In this extraordinary collection, Margaret Atwood gives us nine unforgettable tales that reveal the grotesque, delightfully wicked facets of humanity. “Alphinland,” the first of three loosely linked tales, introduces us to a fantasy writer who is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. In “Lusus Naturae,” a young woman, monstrously transformed by a genetic defect, is mistaken for a vampire. And in the title story, a woman who has killed four husbands discovers an opportunity to exact vengeance on the first man who ever wronged her.

Mailbox Monday – 10/12


Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday. To check out everyone’s additions and add you own link, head to the Mailbox Monday Blog. I received a couple of books this week that I’m looking forward to reading.


Untimely Death came from Kaye Publicity. How could I pass up the combo of a resort and Shakespeare?

Mailbox Monday – 10/12 Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Series: Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery #1
Published by Crooked Lane Books on November 10th 2015
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
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A Catskills resort’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes a wickedly ironic turn when the leading lady, Lauren Richmond, is first poisoned and then stabbed. Who would extinguish the life of such a beautiful young thespian? Who wouldn’t? Seems like just about everyone had a motive to pull the ropes on her final curtain call.

At the center of this Shakespearian tragedy is Charlotte Fairfax, formerly the costume mistress of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Upstate New York is a long way from the royal stage, but Charlotte is always the queen of her domain. As this small production’s costume designer, she has stitched her way into everyone’s lives, learning more than anyone could possibly imagine about the rise and fall of Lauren Richmond. But curiosity killed the cat. And it might well kill the costume designer.

I purchased Morning in the Burned House for two reasons. First, Louise Penny mentioned it when we saw her in August. Second, I can get Margaret Atwood to sign it when we go see her speak later this month. I’m also thinking it’ll be a good read for the Read-a-thon this Saturday.

Mailbox Monday – 10/12 Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
Published by Mariner Books on September 16th 1996
Genres: Poetry
Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
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These beautifully crafted poems - by turns dark, playful, intensely moving, tender, and intimate - make up Margaret Atwood's most accomplished and versatile gathering to date, " setting foot on the middle ground / between body and word." Some draw on history, some on myth, both classical and popular. Others, more personal, concern themselves with love, with the fragility of the natural world, and with death, especially in the elegiac series of meditations on the death of a parent. But they also inhabit a contemporary landscape haunted by images of the past. Generous, searing, compassionate, and disturbing, this poetry rises out of human experience to seek a level between luminous memory and the realities of the everyday, between the capacity to inflict and the strength to forgive.

What books found their way to your house?



Mailbox Monday – 10/5


Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday. To check out everyone’s additions and add you own link, head to the Mailbox Monday Blog.

This month continues RIPX and Dewey’s Read-a-thon is on the 17th. Hopefully I get lots of time to read and drink mulled cider.

Here are the books I received this month.


The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg – purchased (review)


Miss Taken and Identity by Cleo Scornavacca, along with two signed bookmarks – won from Michele during her High Summer Read-a-thon hosted at Seasons of Reading. Thanks!

Five Questions of Christmas by Rob Burkhart – from Abingdon Press via NetGalley

The Best American Poetry 2015 edited by David Lehman and Sherman Alexie – purchased

Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 from IndieWrites – purchased

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub – from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley

Do You Believe in Santa? by Sierra Donovan – from Kensington Books via NetGalley


I won this beautiful bracelet and three necklaces from Suze at Suze Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams. They are from Villa Sorgenfrei and are so pretty. This is the picture from Suze’s site, since they just came in today’s mail and I didn’t have time to take a photo, but they made my day. Thanks!


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