Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Magic of Margaret Atwood

I am currently reading Margaret Atwood's collection of short stories, Moral Disorder. Each time I read something by Atwood it only confirms my opinion of her as one of the best contemporary writers. A passage I read today shows her talent for evoking a scene:

On a day like this it was hard to resist dozing off, drifting down into reverie or half-sleep. It was afternoon, it was May, the trees outside were flowering, pollen was eddying everywhere. The classroom was too hot; it was filled with a vibration, the vibration of its newness- the blond wood of its curved, modern metal-framed desks, the greenness of its blackboards, the faint humming of its fluorescent lights, which seemed to hum even when they were turned off. But despite this newness there was an old smell in the room, an ancient fermenting smell: an invisible steam was rising all around, oily, salty, given off by twenty-five adolescent bodies stewing gently in the humid springtime air.
Or maybe it's just because I work in schools that this seems so vivid?

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