Yesterday, I went to a site thinking I would read a bit about the upcoming adaptation of A Handmaid's Tale, and I watched a few trailers: two for the upcoming adaptation and one for the 1990 movie. I am not sure that I will watch the upcoming event as it rolls out week to week. I rarely watch anything on a weekly basis.
But it does look compelling, so I may watch the episodes that roll out at the end of April. Maybe between now and then I will reread the book. I read it long ago, shortly after it was published. I must have been a bit of a book evangelist, because I have at least 2 friends who read it because I recommended it, and 20 years later, they still remember that it was me who insisted that they read it.
I read the book again in January of 2002. I had Afghanistan on my mind, and how a society can go from contemporary to medieval in short order, as had happened when the Taliban took over. I want to believe that once we've made progress towards a just society that essential human rights can't be taken away.
I want to believe that, but I know it's not true.
As I watched the trailers, I was struck by the scenes of people being kept away from each other. I once thought that repressive governments might keep lovers apart--that was a narrative that seemed even more compelling than the traditional one of parents keeping lovers apart. I know that the repressive government narrative is still alive and well in real life. If I occupied a different demographic, I'd have a different outlook: if I wasn't a U.S. citizen, if I was younger, if I wasn't descended from northern Europeans, if my sexuality was more fluid . . . I might have started taking some protective measures by now.
But in my personal life, I see families ripped apart by disease more often than by repressive governments. In the past five years, it seems that I've been hearing more and more about people at midlife with horrible cancers--is there more cancer at midlife or am I just more aware?
What narratives are being created right now that seem timely now and will seem even more relevant 30 some odd years from now? Would I have predicted Atwood's book would have this staying power?
Yes, yes I would, and I have friends who will tell you so, even if I don't remember being an Atwood evangelist.