I recently had the privilege of interviewing Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood for the fantasy baseball magazine The Knuckler:
Me: Hi! I really want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us, and add what a personal honour it is for me to be speaking to a woman with with such a dizzying literary capacity. You are truly one of the greatest writers in the entire world.
Atwood: That’s very sweet of you, thank you.
Me: I think an awful lot of people would be surprised to learn that you played Fantasy Baseball.
Can you tell us here at The Knuckler how you got into it?
Atwood: As people may or may not know, I’ve always been very interested in speculative fiction, and when I heard about Fantasy Baseball, I thought it was in the same vein. You know, like Fantasy Literature, so I looked in to it. Alas, it was not, but I became fascinated by it and all the marginalized, impotent men that play it so obsessively. It’s role playing, really, where all these limited, in many cases arrested men, bond together and pretend that they’re something much more powerful than they are in the ordinary dirt of their relentlessly disappointing lives.
It’s like a religion for them, I think, a little treehouse they can retreat to and act as supreme ruler of a secular male kingdom. I have always thought that without Fantasy Baseball there would probably be an awful lot more mass shootings. Anyway, I got involved in order to research a character for one of my books and have been playing ever since.
Atwood: And I have to say, I’ve done very, very well.
Me: Good for you.
Atwood: I’m sorry, are you being sarcastic?
Me: Oh no, a marginalized, impotent shooter-type such as myself wouldn’t have a clue how to do that!
Atwood: I see.
Me: I guess you’ve just been a very lucky player!
Me: Plucky. A very plucky player.
Me: Well, let’s not get side-tracked with semantics here. So, I’m sure all of The Knuckler’s readers would love to hear what your Fantasy Baseball team is called!
Atwood: The Blind Assassins.
Atwood: Mister Murray, I have to say, you sound disappointed.
Me: Well, coming from a “literary genius” you’d expect something a little more imaginative and eloquent. It seems lazy and nakedly self-promotional to name your team after one of your own books, especially if it wasn’t good enough to be an Oprah Pick or made into a movie.
Atwood: What is your team called?
Me: Mike’s Mashers.
Atwood: That’s very clever. How are they doing this year?
Me: They’ve been savaged by injuries I’m afraid, so it looks like I’ll be rebuilding again.
Atwood: Again, eh? So, how long have you been playing Fantasy Baseball?
Me: I don’t know, 25 years?
Atwood: Have you ever won?
Me: Ha, ha, ha! Have I ever won? What a funny question! Let me tell you, I’ve more than held my own.
Atwood: But have you ever won? Have you ever finished in first place? Have you tasted the sort of victory that for a moment erases all those memories of being the last pick, of being mocked for throwing like a girl, of all those many, many times of being over-looked by the more talented and beautiful?
Have you ever had your revenge, Mister Murray?
Unfortunately, I suffered an asthma attack at this point during the interview and we had to suspend our chat.