I am a fan of Margaret Atwood. Her Blind Assassin is the book that I first read and especially enjoyed the lyrical prose. The next book that I enjoyed is her Negotiating with the dead which talks about the writing process. I just finished reading her Curious pursuits: Occasional writing. As with Negotiating with the dead, many pieces in the book are about writing. There are also a few obituaries, several autobiographical essays, and even one or two movie reviews.
One measure of success of such books about books, for me at least, is the number of books that I go looking for after the reading. In this case, here is a partial list of books and authors that I now want to read thanks to Atwood’s recommendations: Anne Sexton: a self-portrait in letters, Northrop Fyre, Jonh Updike’s The witches of Eastwick, Susanna Moodie’s Roughing it in the bush, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Ernest Buckler, Antonia Fraser’s The Warrior queens, Thomas King (One good story, That one), Marquez (The general in his labyrinth), Anne of Green Gables, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Grimm (unpurged), Hillary Mantel (An experiment in love), She (Haggard), Doctor Glas, Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard (Tishomingo Blues), Ursula Le Guin, Tuds Terkel (Hope dies last), Robert Bringhurst (The classical Haida mythtellers), Orhan Pamuk (Snow), The island of Doctor Moreau, and George Orwell. Thus, the book is quite a hit for me.
Atwood has thought deeply about certain things: writing process, science fiction, Canadian literature. The writing conveys these thoughts; and, conveys them in style. Atwood’s writing style is something that I enjoy (and would love to emulate). There are also a few laugh-out-loud funny passages and several humorous pieces. In addition, there are a few personal pieces which I liked a lot: for example, her difficulties in reading Virginia Woolf when she first encountered Woolf is something that I have also experienced.
Needless to say, strongly recommended!