Seriously, how could you not love this woman? (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The first and only time I met Margaret Atwood, the literary genius behind The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin, Oryx & Crake and other dark dystopian masterworks, I didn't make the greatest impression.
As a surprise for my birthday, a friend had taken me to Book Passage, a bookstore just outside San Francisco, to watch Atwood do a reading. After Atwood was done, I gathered the strength to approach her for a book signing. Stepping up to the table, where she sat mere feet away from me, she said something I was too awestruck by for it to fully register. In response, I sputtered out a single word:
I remember her looking up at me with a rather kindhearted smirk, seemingly bemused by my awkward fail. It was if I had been brought backstage at Shea Stadium to meet the Beatles—and honestly, to me, meeting her was way more awesome than greeting some floppy-haired Brits with guitars. I took my book and left, a deep and abiding future friendship seemingly—and devastatingly—not in the stars.
That said, my spark for her still burns bright—especially when news came out last month that Atwood is writing a book . . . that won't be released until (wait for it) the year 2114. The work will be part of The Future Library project, an ambitious plan to collect a tome a year until 2114, at which point a grove of trees outside Oslo will be cut down to print them all.
The fact that Atwood will be kicking off this indisputably awesome project affirms what I've known all along: She's the best ever.
1. She's Canadian
Like all great things (ketchup chips, maple syrup, The Walrus, the CBC, Mounties), Atwood is an export from our friendly northern neighbor. This ensures she's a really good person who's totally polite to everyone . . . as verified by her necessary kindness when I basically acted like a complete idiot in front of her.
2. She's A Humanist
Atwood is so committed to humanism—a philosophy founded on promoting secular human goodness and rational solutions to pressing issues—that she was named "Humanist of the Year" by the American Humanist Association.
3. She's An Advocate For Fellow Writers
Atwood's a founder of the nonprofit Writers' Trust of Canada, which provides some $500,000 annually to support the country's literary talents.
And this, of course, is to say nothing of her indisputedly massive talents as a writer and poet—or wonderfully enlightened views on women in the arts.
As for her "book for the future," Atwood is remaining mum on what it will be about. Meanwhile, I'm already making plans to tell my grandkids about it, so they too can revel in her literary greatness. I hope when they pick it up a century from now, they have one word to say: