Books·Canadian

Cat's Eye

Margaret Atwood's novel is about a controversial artist who must face her turbulent past when she returns to Toronto for a retrospective of her work.

Margaret Atwood

Controversial painter Elaine Risley returns from Vancouver for a retrospective of her work. Here, in Toronto, the city of her youth, she confronts the submerged layers of her past — her unconventional family, her eccentric and brilliant brother, the self-righteous Mrs. Smeath, and the two men Elaine later came to love in diverse and sometimes disastrous ways. But it is the enigmatic Cordelia, once her tormentor, then her best friend, whose elusive yet powerful presence in her life Elaine finally comes to understand. The realm of childhood and growing up, with its secrecies, cruelties, betrayals and terrors, has never been so brilliantly evoked. By turns disquieting, humorous, compassionate, haunting and mordant, Cat's Eye is vintage Atwood. (From Emblem Editions)

From the book

Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. If you can bend space you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backwards in time and exist in two places at once.

It was my brother Stephen who told me that, when he wore his ravelling maroon sweater to study in and spent a lot of time standing on his head so that the blood would run down into his brain and nourish it. I didn't understand what he meant, but maybe he didn't explain it very well. He was already moving away from the imprecision of words.

But I began then to think of time as having a shape, something you could see, like a series of liquid transparencies, one laid on top of another. You don't look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away.


From Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood ©2011. Published by Emblem Editions.

Interviews with Margaret Atwood

… we young writers of Canada?" That's a question Margaret Atwood asked in a recent lecture presented at the Canadian Literature Centre. Highlights from Margaret Atwood’s talk and a conversation with Paul Kennedy. 54:00
In this video from the CBC Archives, Margaret Atwood talks about where culture meets country. 1:18

Other books by Margaret Atwood

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.