Margaret Atwood on mortification

From Curious Pursuits:

(Atwood’s US publisher arranges for her to get on an American talk show.) It was an afternoon show, which in those days–could it have been the late seventies?–meant variety. It was the sort of show at which they played pop music, and then you were supposed to sashay through a bead curtain, carrying your trained koala bear, or Japanese flower arrangement, or book.

I waited behind the bead curtain. There was an act on before me. It was a group from the Colostomy Association, who were talking about their colostomies, and about how to use the colostomy bag.

I knew I was doomed. No book could ever be that riveting.

WC Fields vowed never to share the stage with a child or a dog; I can add to that, “Never follow the Colostomy Association.” (Or any other thing having to do with frightening bodily items, such as the port-wine-stain removal technique that once preceded me in Australia.) The problem is, you lose all interest in yourself and your so-called ‘work’–‘What did you say your name was? And tell us the plot of your book, just in a couple of sentences, please’–so immersed are you in picturing the gruesome intricacies of…but never mind.

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