Margaret Atwood (on sadness, in fiction?)

I’m reading Atwood’s weirdly witty near-future dystopian nightmare trilogy of runaway climate, corporate takeover, canyonesque income disparity and biotech gone to its illogical conclusion. In the second novel, The Year of the Flood, an overused and under-loved young woman named Ren leaves a decent, if menial, job because there’s too much pain there. She goes, as a backup plan, to Scales and Tails, a strip-bar/brothel whose chief pimp, Mordis, at least appreciates her dance training.

Ms. Atwood channels through this hooker’s-minder-with-a-heart-of, well, maybe not gold but apparently harbouring more careful attention to and protection of Ren than her mother ever showed. (Heart of cynicized bronze, maybe.) Mordis remembers Ren from when his SekSmart Corporation interviewed her at a job fair hosted by her seedy arts college, the Martha Graham Institute. Ren has no illusions about the work she’s getting into, and has only one qualm:

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