Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Tent by Margaret Atwood

Published: 2006
Pages: 155
Genre: Short stories
The Tent is Margaret Atwood's highly imaginative new collection of mini-fictions. These vintage Atwoodian tales - monologues, pretend histories and autobiographies, animal fables, and condensed science fictions - speak to a broad range of subjects, reflecting the times we live in with deadly accuracy and knife-edge precision (from back of book).

In all honesty, I don't think I've ever read a collection of short stories. I mean, I've read some in school, but I've never had the desire to read a whole book full of them. For that reason I was a little hesitant to read The Tent, but I figured: "Hey, it's Atwood. It's gotta be good". And I was so, so right.

The stories in The Tent range from being a paragraph to a few pages, so you can generally say that they're the epitome of short stories. That's one of the reasons why I liked them so much, though; short and sweet, yet you can interpret them in a variety of ways. For example, the story "Bring Back Mom: An Invocation" is all about the role of the housewife in history, but it's also about the consequences that occur when we don't expect anything more from women. The story "Faster" is making fun of this current age when time cannot be wasted and people are concerned about efficiency and speed. Each and every story in The Tent has something to offer - whether it be a point Atwood is trying to make, or simply a whimsical, fantastical tale that transports you into another dimension.

If you haven't read any of Atwood's work, you might not understand when I say that her writing has a certain feel to it. To me, it seems almost childish at times, simple and innocent. But there's deliberate contrast when she writes about dark, even morbid topics. It's unexpected, and to me that's Atwood's signature style. Here's a great example:

"Chicken Little slammed Turkey Lurkey's office door, causing Turkey Lurkey's corkboard decorated with clever newspaper cartoons to fall to the floor. Then he took himself off to Goosey Loosey, his old roommate, who was now the editor of a major newspaper."

Along with some of Atwood's drawings scattered within the pages, The Tent is filled with mini-masterpieces that are sure to impress even her regular readers. Each tale is a jem, having the impact of a full length story.

Recommendation: Fan of short stories? You won't want to miss The Tent. If you're like me and have never touched this genre, don't be afraid. You cannot go wrong with Margaret Atwood!


Nymeth said...

I'd been looking forward to your review of this, Emidy! I'm glad it's as good as the teasers made it sound.

Aths said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't read Atwood plus I'm not big into short stories, but I'll keep this one on my radar, and head off to read another Atwood first, since it's so clear I'm missing out on something.

Juju at Tales of said...

Fascinating choice. Great review. I love how your always reading something different.

Melissa said...

I'm usually not too in love with short stories, but this sounds interesting, and I love that you read things most people in our bloggy community wouldn't :)

Hannah Stoneham said...

I know exactly what you mean by the Attwood feel - it is very distinctive and I am a big fan. I also enjoy short stories when they are good so this sounds like a real find. Thanks for sharing a most inpsiring review!


Emidy said...

Nymeth - Oh it is!

Aths - Yes, go get one of her books! I'm sure you'll love her writing.

Juju - Why thank you!

Melissa - I wasn't into them either, but now I want to read more short stories.

Hannah - If you love short stories and love Atwood, you've got to read this.