Friday, September 25, 2015

Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales by Margaret Atwood

fpo  Short story collections are not my strong suit when it comes to reading. I’m never quite sure what to make of them. Give me a 250-page collection of short stories or an 800-page tome, in 9 out of 10 cases I would pick the tome. Short stories often feel too short. Just as I’m getting into the story, it’s over and then I’m still holding the same book in my hands but a completely new story has started. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Margaret Atwood's Stone Mattress. Actually trepidation may be overstating it. I have read two (yes, only two) books by the great Canadian author, and I liked one and loved the other, so I was fairly certain I would get through Stone Mattress okay.

My favorite stories were Torching the Dusties and the title story Stone Mattress, along with Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady, a trio of stories that open the book. Torching the Dusties reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale (a book I loved) in its bleak and not to unbelievable portrait of a future where a certain segment of the population is treated as disposable. Stone Mattress is a powerful revenge fantasy in which a woman enacts a plan to get back at the first man that wronged her. It is a truly a wicked and satisfying tale. Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady are three connected stories about three people that once knew each other in their youth. There were some stories that didn't work for me but overall I enjoyed the collection.

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