I just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
She crafted a scary world of what can happen in the future, if religion and politics aren’t kept in check. She uses descriptive, poetic language to describe her character’s experiences. Using flashbacks, the story unfolds of how she came to be at the present. The final chapter is far into the future where anthropologists discuss the story she recorded and try to determine her identity.
I am interested in creating something similar, thinking of what problems our society could be heading towards. Atwood uses women’s rights and the control of women’s bodies. Perhaps I would use the theme of ignoring climate change, or unfair wealth distribution, or the racial problem being faced by refugees. I could conjure a world where the worst has happened, decide how my characters would react, and how they could possibly change their fate. It would begin in the midst of the new circumstances and then refer back to how the world got that way.
Her writing feels familiar, it sounds like a lot of my own thoughts. I want to read more of her work. I want my poetry to come through in fiction without the reader realizing they are reading poetry. I want to describe the mundane as though it is profound, I want to record all the details people overlook. Less focused on the plot and more concerned with developing a world and characters that could be real.
I read the book because it’s been in the news lately. People feel the political atmosphere changing, swinging on the pendulum toward doom instead of progress. Trump could decide to take away people’s rights and we could be right where Atwood feared. We could be heading to the next Holocaust, just look at all the hate and fear building up, history repeating.
I need to think about what my own dystopian nightmare looks like, and check out a bunch more of her books.