I'm an indie author and a scribbler of inane babble. I talk about books I've read/liked. Or at least, that's the plan.
Most of the reviews will be considered "mini-reviews." Usually, it's mostly my reaction to what I've been reading. There are people who are far better at doing full and helpful reviews. But I still have fun doing them, and hope you enjoy them!
Margaret Atwood has always been on my radar, although due to my complete and utter laziness I hadn’t really explored her work all that much. I did eventually get to The Handmaid’s Tale a few months ago, and I was pretty impressed with it. And then I found out that she wrote one of my favorite short stories that I read back in college, “The Man from Mars.” I’d been seeking out the author responsible for that story for quite some time, and it wasn’t until maybe a year ago or so that I realized it was by Atwood.
That story alone showed me she had a knack for short stories, so it was a no-brainer for me to pre-order her latest collection, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales.
A good decision? Hell yeah, it was! Definitely one of my best book purchases of the year.
This is a perfect collection. Every single story is excellent and urgent. These stories mostly focus on aging and complicated relationships. They focus on relationships started long ago, and the direct impact they had on the characters later on in life. There are a bunch of brilliant, sad, and funny moments. There are also dark moments, too.
The first three stories are connected, but all three could stand on their own. I think they’re more powerful when read together. (Certainly, the first one can be enjoyed the most by itself more than the two following it). Another story, “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth” revisits characters from one of Atwood’s previous novels, The Robber Bride. One does not need to read the book to enjoy the story, as I just found out that little tidbit a day ago or so. I haven’t read the novel, and I was able to follow the story without any trouble or confusion.
While this is a perfect collection and I loved every story, I do have my favorites. These are the standouts in my mind:
The Freeze-Dried Groom
The Dead Hand Loves You (this one’s my overall favorite)
Torching the Dusties
I listened to the audiobook on this one, and it’s fantastic. It features various readers, and even includes Atwood herself reading the title story. I thought all of the readers were enjoyable.
Atwood’s Stone Mattress: Nine Tales is a new favorite short story collection of mine, and it’s my favorite book of the year as I write this review. It’s hard to not oversell the book to others. The last thing I want to do is overhype it to anybody. All I can do, as I always have, is give you my honest reaction. I loved this collection. Loved, loved, loved it. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll revisit this one many, many times over.