Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on June 8th 2011
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General
In this collection of short works that defy easy categorization, Margaret Atwood displays, in condensed and crystallized form, the trademark wit and viruosity of her best-selling novels, brilliant stories, and insightful poetry. Among the jewels gathered here are Gertrude offering Hamlet a piece of her mind, the real truth about the Little Red Hen, a reincarnated bat explaining how Bram Stoker got Dracula all wrong, and the five methods of making a man (such as the "Traditional Method": "Take some dust off the ground. Form. Breathe into the nostrils the breath of life. Simple, but effective!") There are parables, monologues, prose poems, condensed science fiction, reconfigured fairy tales, and other miniature masterpieces--punctuated with charming illustrations by the author. A must for her fans, and a wonderful gift for all who savor the art of exquisite prose, Good Bones And Simple Murders marks the first time these writings have been available in a trade edition in the United States.From the Hardcover edition.
Can I just use all the adjectives to describe this collection? It’s brilliant, funny, surprising, troubling, sad, witty, and amazing all at once. Like all short story collections there are good stories and bad stories.
The first story that made me sit up and go ‘huh.’ was called ‘Unpopular Gals’ – it was a few vignettes written from the perspective of female fairy tale villains. The evil queen in Snow White, the wicked stepmother in Cinderella – it was delightful in the way that Gregory McGuire’s Wicked is delightful with reimagining these one dimensional women, giving them depth, and making them sympathetic.
‘Simmering’ was flat out funny, creating an alternate universe where the kitchen is solely and completely in the realm of men. It’s a fantastic piece that embodies what the feminist movement is about – and that’s choice. To stay at home, to have a family, to be single, to work.
‘Liking Men’ is a difficult piece about the struggle of rape survivors to feel some normalcy in intimacy after their attack – and just how long that can take.
‘Hardball’ is a dystopian story – that if I ever talk to Hugh Howey, I’m going to ask him if it was a starting point of inspiration for his Silo series (You might know the first one as Wool) because it felt very familiar to that. Except, cannibals.
I took notes on a few more stories that really stuck out for me, if you’re just leafing through the collection I’d recommend that you check out ‘The Female Body’ and ‘Cold-Blooded’ as well. Fantastic collection.
What about you, Reader? Have you read any great collections of short stories recently? How about the short story as a form, do you like it?