#ShortStorySunday – Sleights of Words.

Book Review for “Good Bones” by Margaret Atwood.

Summary: In Good Bones, first published in 1992, Margaret Atwood has fashioned an enthralling collection of parable, monologue, mini-romance and mini-biography, speculative fiction, prose lyric, outrageous recipe and reconfigured fairy tale, demonstrating yet again the play of an unerring wit overseen by a panoramic intelligence. Good Bones is a cornucopia of good things — precise, witty, wise, and sometimes offbeat Atwood writing, with the funny and the sidelong view of the world which her readers recognize at once.”

Age: Adult; Genres: Speculative, Women, Fiction; Settings: Various eras (past, present, and future); Various locations; Other Categories: Short Story, Collection, Multiple Genres, Humor.

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Okay, to be totally honest with you, I’m not sure that one reading of this collection is enough to really get the full impact of these very short stories. Either that, or I’m a bit stupid, because I’m not sure I understood all of these tales. You see, on the back of the volume I have, it talks about a whole bunch of topics that these stories touch upon, and I’m not sure if I got all of them. Yes, I certainly did get a few, like the one that talks about ecological disasters, and another one where an ugly sister and wicked stepmother (a la Cinderella) try to make themselves more sympathetic. I also understood there was a reincarnated bat, but I’m not sure I understood that the bat was saying that Bram Stoker was wrong about Dracula.

The back also says that these are “wise and witty writings.” I can fully attest to the wise parts, but I’m thinking that the witty bit went over my head somewhat. In fact, I found many, if not most of these tales to be quite sad, almost hauntingly so, that they gave me pause. That’s why the other thing on the back of this book that called this “deliciously strong and bittersweet” rang true for me, along with calling it “pure distilled Atwood” which also made total sense to me, due to the brevity of these 27 stories that fill up only 147 pages. That also made this book a very fast read for me, and I’m willing to bet that faster readers than I could finish this in one or two settings at most.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read a collection of short stories by Atwood. Some time ago, I read her “Stone Mattress” which I truly loved. The big difference between that collection and this one, is that while those stories were thematically similar in their sinister aspects, these seem far more random. In addition, those tales were complete stories, but these feel more like snippets of ideas that are only slightly fleshed out into stream of consciousness pieces. I’d even go so far as to say that they could be described as prose poems, since the texts here are very lyrical and enigmatic depictions of emotions and feelings, rather than straight forward developments of any plot concept or particular character.

Obviously, what is most important is did I enjoy reading them. I can say that for the most part, I did like most of these. However, like I said before, I really think I need to re-read these in order to fully understand the gist of what Atwood was trying to say in some of these pieces. Since I almost never re-read books, I’m not sure when (or even if) I’ll do this, but I’m thinking I need to give these a few months or so to distill for me, before I got back to them. This makes it hard for me to properly rate this collection. I’m certain that most hard-boiled Atwood fans will adore this, and appreciate her unique style to the fullest. They will probably also have more insight into what she’s trying to say here than I did on my first reading, and find the humor where I didn’t. Because this left me pondering, but in a good way, I don’t think I can give it five stars – at least not yet. Therefore, I’ll give it four out of five stars and say that I did find this very interesting, and I really do want to read them all again.

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This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell’s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: NONE! Sorry

 

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