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Blame Canada

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 10, 2006 2:47PM

Canada.jpgWe tend to like our authors old and dead (just like our dates!), so we decided to step outside ourselves and read something new. For the American-bred Women’s History Month, we decided to read Canadian authors that are still living, negating everything all at once, except they’re all female, so that’s something.

First on our list is the ever-excellent Margaret Atwood. Her new book “The Penelopiad” re-tells the story of “The Iliad” from the point of view of Penelope, using her twelve murdered maids as the classic Greek Chorus. While the suspiciously loyal and chaste Penelope waits for Odysseus to return, she listens to the gossip of her husband’s travels. She hears that “Odysseus had been in a fight with a giant one-eyed Cyclops, said some; no, it was only a one-eyed tavern keeper, said another, and the fight was over non payment of the bill.” Atwood is also making news with the LongPen, now she can be at home on the couch and still sign books. Can we just be her already?

Next in our femalian, Canadian, invasion is a new work from Alice Munro. “Runaway” is a series of short stories about women whose lives change in the blink of an eye. We learned long ago in our Great Books class never to read back covers or prologues before starting a book, so we were a little disjointed when one story ended so abruptly and another one started. Oh right! Short stories! We did like the diversity of the women, their confusion over their own moral standings and their complicated relationships with men and mommies.

Our final authoress in the trifecta is Jane Urquhart. The upcoming release of her new novel “A Map of Glass”, coincides with her first ever Chicago appearance with the Chicago Humanities Festival. “A Map of Glass” is set in both present day Toronto and 19th century rural Ontario. It’s a romantic tale of Sylvia Bradley, a middle aged woman who meets a historical geographer. After his death, she travels to Toronto to find the man that discovered his body. It sounds romantic and strange, just like our dates.

You can see Jane Urquhart on Saturday, March 11, from 10:00am till 12:00pm at the Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan Ave. 312)661-1028, ext. 22 or email