For those that follow my Twitter feed, I apologize for once again bringing up Margaret Atwood. I can't think of another time when Atwood revisited her fiction in quite the same way as Year of the Flood. Sure, she reevaluates her perceptions on various literary topics like any good critic should, but to revisit the content of Oryx and Crake and be elbow deep in the development of a third novel based on the premise is very unusual. I'm intrigued.
The topic today, however, is one of the coolest promotions I've ever heard of for a book. Yes, even greater than Miranda July's dry erase promotional website.
Apparently, The Year of the Flood heavily involves a series of hymns that Atwood wrote lyrics to. The hymns were given a proper musical adaptation by Orville Stoeber. Now that the book is out (to mostly rave reviews) and the CD available, a contest has been launched through YouTube.
Atwood's team is encouraging soloists, duets, groups, and choirs to record their own arrangement of a God's Gardeners' hymn. The official sheet music is available to purchase on the Year of the Flood website, though the melodies are simple enough that their use isn't an integral part of the challenge. On December 15, the top 10 solo/duet submissions and top 5 group/choir submissions will be announced and receive an array of prizes that puts mosts literary contests to shame.
The entirety of one hymn is available at Orville Stoeber's website. My Body is an Earthly Ark is incessantly catchy like any good hymn. It feels like you're going to sing about Jesus, only it's all about the environment. The rest have brief samples on the Year of the Flood site. Again, intriguing.
The physical album is a limited edition release, though the music is available to download. I'm not sure if it's just my computer or if the download links aren't quite working yet on the site, though I'm sure they'll get it worked out.
Just reading about the creation of the music is fascinating. Shoot, the whole Year of the Flood website is wonderful. I can't wait to actually read Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood to be able to appreciate all the clear references to literary goodness sprinkled on these pages.