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Atwood writes my Mother

As many of you know, Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood and I have been having a feud ever since I interviewed her for a magazine about fantasy baseball. Recently, my mother got involved, writing Atwood to apologize on behalf of the Murray family for my deplorable behaviour– and then several weeks later, writing her again, only this time to complain about her rudeness in not responding promptly and thanking her for the hand sanitizer she had sent along with the apology.

Well, the other day my mother actually received this letter from Margaret Atwood:


December, 6th, 2017



noun: barb; plural noun: barbs

    1. a sharp projection near the end of an arrow, fishhook, or similar item, angled away from themain point so as to make extraction difficult.

                  2. a cluster of spikes on barbed wire.

                  3. a deliberately hurtful remark.


Dear Barb:

Please forgive me for being so informal as to use your first name. I can see that you’re not just appropriately (refer to above prolegomenon) named, but that the Murray line carries very excitable genes, and I certainly don’t want to offend you or any of the other members in your easily inflamed tribe.

Let me first thank you for your apology concerning the alarming behaviour of your 50-something son, and the thoughtful inclusion of hand sanitizer with your letter. You are right, hand sanitizer does make for a nice, affordable stocking stuffer. Thank Heavens for Shoppers Optimum points, eh, Barb?

It’s interesting to note that the word “barb” is derived from Latin and Old French words for “beard.” The patriarchy has a deep reach, Mrs. Murray, a very deep reach. For instance, I wonder why your fully grown, almost elderly son, does not feel the need to apologize for himself to a respected woman he’s been publicly berating? Why would his mother have to do it?

Could it be that Michael, an archetypically mediocre white man,

was born into a world that was made for him, a world where women existed as bit players present only to serve his narrative? And then, with all competition smothered, with the entire force of a white, phallocentric history pushing him forward, Michael, armed with every conceivable advantage, became the author of one very unsuccessful vanity-published book.

That’s what he did.

He did not become an astronaut, he became a fantasy baseball enthusiast. And as he ascended to the status of fantasy baseball enthusiast and nothing else, he fully believed that all his “achievements” were due to his unique genius, and all failures a conspiracy of invisible, unknowable enemies.

Does that sound about right?

But it’s not your fault, Barb. It’s the world we were born into, and if you want to learn more about why your son is an asshole, you should tune in to Bravo on April 30th to watch the award-winning, crisply produced recreation of my uncannily predictive dystopian novel, A Handmaid’s Tale. It stars Elisabeth Moss, whom you might have seen on the cover of some of the magazines you buy at the mall.

Margaret Atwood

PS: Von all den Kreaturen, die auf der Erde atmen und sich bewegen, wird nichts gezüchtet, das schwächer ist als der Mensch.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jon Miller #


    December 14, 2017
  2. Adam B #

    There’s only going to be one way to settle this, and I think we can all agree it involves broadswords.

    December 15, 2017
  3. Sharktooth #

    Hmmm, broadswords definitely have their place, but I’m worried that one of the combatants might just trip and impale himself. Past history considered, and all.

    No, this one is probably better suited to spankings. Spankings seem to match the level of rosey cheeked debate.

    December 20, 2017

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