The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out

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9780002554237: The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out
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Portrait of an Artist and her Generation

International award-winning and best-selling author, Canadian cultural icon, feminist role model, "man-hater," wife, mother, private citizen and household name ' who is Margaret Atwood? Rosemary Sullivan, award-winning literary biographer, has penned The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood/Starting Out, the first portrait of Canada's most famous novelist, focusing on her childhood and formative years as a writer and the generation she grew up in.

When Margaret Atwood was a little girl in 1949, she saw a movie called The Red Shoes. It is the story of a beautiful young woman who becomes a famous ballerina, but commits suicide when she cannot satisfy one man, who wants her to devote her entire life to her art, and another who loves her, but subjugates her to become his muse and inspiration. She struggles to choose art, but the choice eventually destroys her.

Margaret Atwood remembers being devastated by this movie but unlike many young girls of her time, she escaped its underlying message. Always sustained by a strong sense of self, Atwood would achieve a meteoric literary career. Yet a nurturing sense of self-confidence is just one fascinating side of our most famous literary figure, as examined in Rosemary Sullivan's latest biography. The Red Shoes is not a simple biography but a portrait of a complex, intriguing woman and her generation.

The seventies in Canada was the decade of fierce nationalist debate, a period during which Canada's social imagination was creating a new tradition. Suddenly everyone, from Robertson Davies to Margaret Laurence was talking, and writing, about a Canadian cultural identity. Margaret Atwood was no exception.

For despite her tremendous success that transcends the literary community, catapulting into the realm of a "household name," Margaret Atwood has remained very much a private person with a public persona.

Rosemary Sullivan reveals the discrepancy between Atwood's cool, acerbic, public image and the down-to-earth, straight-dealing and generous woman who actually writes the books. Throughout, she weaves the issues of female creativity, authority and autonomy set against the backdrop of a generation of women coming of age during one of the most radically shifting times in contemporary history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Rosemary Sullivan was born and raised in Montreal, Québec where she received her B.A. from McGill University. She completed her M.A. at the University of Connecticut and her Ph.D. at the University of Sussex. She has taught at the universities of Dijon and Bordeaux in France, at the University of Victoria, B.C., and at the University of Toronto where she is currently a professor of English. Her academic honours include Killam and Guggenheim fellowships, a Canada-United States-Mexico residency award and a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Teaching Residency in India.

Sullivan has written poetry, short fiction, biography, literary criticism, reviews and articles. She is the author of Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen, which won the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction, the Canadian Author's Association Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the University of British Columbia's Medal for Canadian Biography, and the City of Toronto Book Award.

Sullivan also wrote By Heart: Elizabeth Smart/A Life, which was also nominated for the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction; as well as two collections of poetry, Blue Panic and The Space a Name Makes, which won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and The Garden Master: Style and Identity in the Poetry of Theodore Roethke. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, books, anthologies, and magazines, including Books in Canada, Brick: A Literary Journal, Canadian Forum, Canadian Literature, Cosmopolitan, Descant, études Anglais, The Globe and Mail, The Malahat Review, This Magazine, Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature, Saturday Night, and Toronto Life. Her work has been broadcast on CBC Radio and on "Imprint," a literary television magazine programme.

Sullivan is also the editor of six anthologies of poetry and prose, including Poetry by Canadian Women, Stories by Canadian Women, More Stories by Canadian Women, and Elements of Fiction from Oxford University Press, and co-editor of The Writer and Human Rights from Lester and Orpen Dennys and Doubleday. She has given lectures and readings as well as contributed to conferences across Canada and in the United States, England, France, Belgium, Spain, India, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. A member of the Writers' Union of Canada and a board member of International PEN Canada, Rosemary Sullivan has traveled widely across Europe and Spain and lives in Toronto.

Critical acclaim for Shadow Maker '

"The great gift of Shadow Maker is the sense of humour and legitimacy it confers on a life that ' by mainstream standards ' must seem unimportant and even wasted." ' Maclean's

"Turning the pages of Shadow Maker ' reading through to MacEwen's heart ' is as painful and intense as watching surgery being performed on someone you love. The suspense is electrifying, and the reader's ultimate bonding to the central figure in this book is the crowning triumph of Rosemary Sullivan's skill and compassion. Shadow Maker is not a biography'it is a love affair between every one of its readers and Gwen MacEwen." ' Timothy Findley

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AUTHOR TOUR DATES

Toronto -- Tues., Sept. 8-11; Publicist: Doré Potter, 416.975.9334

Vancouver -- Thurs., Sept. 17; Publicist: Patricia McLean, 604.224.8976

Victoria -- Fri., Sept. 18; Publicist: Patricia McLean, 604.224.8976

Calgary -- Mon., Sept. 21;Publicist: Cathy Tippett, 403.289.4649

WinnipegTues., Sept. 22; Publicist: Rorie Bruce, 204.487.3993

Halifax -- Thurs., Oct. 1; Publicist: Claudia Pinsent, 902.826.7558

Montreal-- Mon., Oct. 5; Publicist: Rita Schaffer, 514.937.1039

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About the Author:

Rosemary Sullivan has written poetry, short fiction, biography, literary criticism, reviews, and articles. Her recent books include the critically acclaimed Villa Air-Bel and Labyrinth of Desire. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and has been awarded Guggenheim, Camargo, and Trudeau Fellowships. She is a recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded by the Royal Society of Canada for her contribution to literature and culture, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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