What did I just step into? Hole-e-cow. Here’s a confession: STONE MATTRESS is my first Margaret Atwood reading experience. Allow me to pick my jaw off the floor and stop my tail wagging as I move on with this review. I’ll need your help at the end.
I’ve read a bunch of short story collections this year and this is the best one I’ve read so far. This includes prize-winning authors and award-nominated collections. Several stories here are joined by theme or characters, but all are delicious and unique. Again, as my first foray into the world of Atwood, I’m impressed.
What grips me is her style of writing—consistent throughout all nine stories. She builds emotion, writes with intelligence, portrays the human condition, and dazzles with her wit. And then she pokes in a twist, or two. Or three. I don’t think I’ve been this consistently entertained by any other collection of stories. Usually one or two stand alone, but Atwood nails it throughout.
For instance, I have an indelible image of a cold man shivering as he tries to start his car. As a reader, I am lead by Atwood to feel sorry for this man. She delivers a few male-oriented puns and jokes to help us commiserate with him in his frozen and unfortunate position. A paragraph break later, we see him as a miserable piece of scum. We stand applauding the cheer-worthy woman, thanks to Atwood’s reversal of circumstance, narration, and tone. But that story is only half complete…
What I have witnessed here is a master of the language and a writer exceling at her craft. I apologize if this seems gushing, but it is well deserved. Poetic and stylish, her stories are woven into near-perfection.
And here is where I need your help: as I have skipped the last part of her latest trilogy for fear of being lost, where should my next Margaret Atwood book begin?
I must also thank Nan A. Talese for sharing this wonderful book with me to review.
You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: Stone Mattress: Nine Tales