Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems
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Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  51 reviews
These short fictions and prose poems are beautifully bizarre: bread can no longer be thought of as wholesome comforting loaves; the pretensions of the male chef are subjected to a loght roasting; a poisonous brew is concocted by cynical five year olds; and knowing when to stop is of deadly importance in a game of Murder in the Dark.
Paperback, 110 pages
Published 1994 by Virago Press (first published 1983)
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Gail Winfree
I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood, though I haven’t read anything by her since “Surfacing” many years ago. A few days ago, I was scanning my bookshelves looking for something else when I came across “Murder in the Dark” (that’s the nice thing about having a library of thousands of books; you never know what you might find). This is a thin book, 110 pages, of short fiction and prose poems—27 vignettes that deal with that many subjects, but mostly relationships between things, primarily men and wom...more
The story, "Happy Endings," is an exercise in metafiction. Atwood invites the reader to participate in the making of the story, or at least highlights the reader’s constant role in creating a work of literature. She presents a variety of alternative endings to a brief introductory paragraph involving John and Mary, requiring the reader to select from among the various options, imitating different genres and styles of writing.

One option, Option A, is a conventional, fairytale-like, saccharine end...more
Karen Powell
For just a taste of Atwood's insight on women and their relationships with men, these short stories deliver a punch in concentrated prose. One memorable favorite of mine is "Boyfriends," where the only detail about each boy the narrator dated in her youth that can be recalled is what outfit she wore on their date. Another favorite is "Simmering," which tells of the gradual gender role reversal over a long period time until men become bound to the kitchen, and women are forced to work lest they t...more
Margaret Atwood is an author whose works are full of shifting perspectives-perspectives that sometimes make you ask yourself, 'What am I reading? Does it mean anything?' Throughout your read, you wonder if you're really going to understand the sense behind her dreamlike sentences, her endless metaphors and tons of similes.

And yet, you find she delights you while she's annoying you, enlightens you while she's driving you crazy. She's flowery with her language and yet she's unpretentious. Her re...more
Atwood's kurze Vignetten schneiden eine Vielzahl von Themen an - Männer, Frauen, Beziehungen zu Dingen/Menschen/Umwelt. Beizeiten schreibt sie über das Schreiben, Metafiktion par excellence. Happy Endings hat es mir besonders getan: Sie schildert eine Vielzahl an Beziehungsverläufe und -enden, nur um diese wieder und wiedermals aus den Angeln zu werfen. Da dies auch einer der längeren Texte ist bleibt nur umso mehr im Gedächtnis, während viele andere einfach zu kurz geraten sind.
Simmering war s...more
Faith Justice
I love Margaret Atwood and these brief flash fictions and prose poems don't disappoint. From "Mute": "They think you can't talk, they're sorry for you, but. But you're waiting for the word, the one that will finally be right. A compound, the generation of life, mud and light."
La infancia. La adolescencia. El juego. El amor. Los hilos que mueven la vida. Un pequeño libro con un gran universo. El paseo de la memoria y la ficción.
Some wonderful imagery and amusing musings on writings and stories.

I rather liked: A plot is just what and what and what and what. But what about how and why?
(I paraphrase.)
Venkat Narayanan
3.5 Stars.

"Happy endings", "Women's Novels", "Simmering" and the eponymous "Murder in the dark" go as too-good-to-be-rated.
A collection of short pieces covering a wide range of topics that I both enjoyed and didn't.

A lot of the stories have a strong feminist tone and while it worked for the most part, there were occasions where it was just too heavy and angry for my taste. "Liking Men" was one that just left a sour taste behind.

My favourites were "Simmering", "Happy Endings" and "Making Poison". Each struck a chord within me and I found them all interesting in their own way.

I'll definitely pick up another of Atwo...more
Lisa M.
I bought this book in high school and probably made it half way through. Atwood was the first author to introduce me to prose poetry and did so in this volume. I found the brevity and (Atwood's) use of second person very attractive, and continued to pursue the genre.

I was reading an article about Atwood last night and decided to reread this. Less then 24 hours later, I have finished the book and am quite impressed. Atwood's short fictions/prose poems touch on topics of childhood, race/ethnic ri...more
A collection of prose poems and short stories that differ from one another in everything but that elusive quality of brutal sincerity that defines the style of M. Atwood for me. Every one of these stories has its own world, beauty, logic and paradox. Seriously, it is impressive how much power such short creations have. Not the author that avoids difficult themes even in short form, Atwood kept things interesting to say at least. Themes range from a child preparing poison to women/man relationshi...more
About 25% of this 80 page book is worth reading; the other 75 is pretty bad. I'll start with what worked.

She has a piece, the longest in the book, about a trip to Mexico. It's not perfect by any means, but it really does live up to the premise of the book: thoughtful, full of striking imagery, surprising in the best way. The fact that it circles around different sides of one experience helps, I think.

The fourth section was also pretty strong. "Hopeless" was the single best piece I read there.

Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Una de las muchas asignaturas pendientes en literatura la voy a cubrir con mi reto a tres años y tiene que ver con la profundización en la carrera literaria de la canadiense Margaret Atwood; nacida en Ottawa en 1939, esta prolífica escritora y crítica, pasa por ser la más importante de Canadá junto con la más que conocida Alice Munro, que también entrará en el reto lector. En España se hizo más famosa por ganar el Príncipe de Asturias de las l...more
Oct 11, 2007 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to see just what you can cram into a page and a half
This is a slight book but one nevertheless to take your time with. The stories are short but not slight and a few explore the world of the writer which quite delighted me. It was the one aspect of Negotiating with the Dead that I wanted more of. ‘The Page’ discusses the notion of the blank page every author has to face, ‘Happy Endings’ considers the limitations of plots – “a what and a what and a what” – and is reminiscent of R D Laing’s Knots, ‘Women’s Novels’ compares the differences between m...more
The prose poems are eloquent and thought provoking and, as with "real" poetry, one has to be careful not to read them too quickly: "I forgot what things were called and saw instead what they are".

A couple of the childhood ones are charming (especially collecting all sort of dangerous things to make one big bucket of "poison", without any idea of what to use it for).

As the book progresses, the topics tend to get darker and more of them focus on the balance of power between men and women. She's we...more
sara ahmed

this is my first atwood and i made sure it the selection of short stories because i wanted to get a feel of her writing before diving into her novels. i've read her quotes here and there and i was always amazed by them so, why not?

the beginning of the book was ok, i liked the style and i liked how i can never tell where the short pieces were going.

halfway through this, the pieces kept getting better and i'd find myself involuntarily smiling, gasping or just staring into space (from the fact that...more
I splurged on Atwood books after I read Cat's Eye in high school, and I loved The Blind Assassin, etc. But having let go of a romantic fascination with writing and benevolent drug fantasy (one I miss more than the other), I find it harder to relate to her images of Canadian feminism and last generation's prosetry. I would never say Atwood is not a good writer. She's wonderful. But I think I like that star-crossed alcoholic Anne Sexton's stuff more than this small piece at least. Or maybe I just...more
Daniel Kukwa
Of all the Margaret Atwood poetic prose works I have read, this is the one I find the least satisfying. There are a few moments of brilliance (the autobiography section, the hilarious exploration of happy endings), but the majority of this book failed to engage my senses with any satisfaction. It alternates between feeling as if Ms. Atwood is showing off...or writing while smoking a bit too much of what she herself terms as "California hybrid". Whichever frame of mind it is, is simply doesn't do...more
I was really into Margaret Atwood when I was at high school, knee-deep in studying Cat's Eye and Wilderness Tips, but this collection of short fiction and prose poems didn't engage me. The seemingly autobiographical pieces made me think of Hemingway (of whom I'm no fan) and the prose poems were often too poetically abstract to appreciate. There was just one stand-out piece for me: 'Simmering', which sees men appropriate the women's traditional domain of the kitchen and masculinise it, squeezing...more
Some amazingly powerful two or three page musings on identity, gender, words, writing and reality. Short pieces like this fill me with awe for phenomenal writers.
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*
Delve into the mind of Margaret Atwood, I dare you!

This compilation is the abstract painting of written language. The scrambled-eggs & brain soup of the mind. A fascinating journey into the complexity and simplicity of human existance.

This is a pretty crappy review, I know. It's hard to review something like this, at least for me it is. Margaret Atwood is an incredibly talented writer though. You should just give it a read.
"I like to read novels in which the heroine has a costume rustling discreetly over her breasts, or discreet breasts rustling under her costume; in any case there must be a costume, some breasts, some rustling, and, over all, discretion."

I've always been on the fence about prose poems--which one is it? There's no such thing!--and this book proves me wrong, there is such a thing, and a way to do it well.
There is something...I don't know, less important or grandiose at stake in Atwood's shorter fiction. Admittedly, that's probably unfair to hold her to an "everything must be earth-shattering!" standard, but really that is the boon and the bust of being Margaret Atwood. I've read a few of these collections now and they simply feel like writing exercises in-between novels.
Amanda Zhuang
I don not know. it is very confusing. not because of the language but because of many other reasons. it is very philosophical I think.....maybe.....for some reasons I just do not understand the main idea in this book....but the language is beautiful, I mean very beautiful!
Margaret Atwood is a genius . I forgot how much I enjoy her style. She sure knows how to kick out through space. She takes the "messy" and sweeps it a big pile for our enjoyment. In such short pieces so much is said. A great book to dip into time and time again.
Rebecca Schwarz
A fascinating collection of short pieces currently out of print. I found a copy with a frumpy cover at the UT library. Not sure of the distinction between Short Short and Prose Poem here but I'll say the pieces I wanted to read more than once were the poems.
Rulo Camacho
Este libro contiene divertimentos, fábulas, cuentos populares, parodias, historias de terror, humor negro, ciencia ficción; ninguno de ellos escapa de la ironía de la autora, quien en esta obra aborda la literatura como un juego.
Surprisingly very, very short pieces, all micro of flash fictions in their own rights. They almost remind me of Ali Smith's stories. Read them all in one sitting, or rather in between adverts in front of the TV. Fun read.
This is my favorite Margaret Atwood book. It is just a tiny book of short essays and prose poems. They are smart and funny and very vivid. Over the years I have re-read many of these pieces over and over again.
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr...more
More about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2) Alias Grace

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“...the hearts gone bubonic with jealousy and greed, glinting through the vests and sweaters of anyone at all.” 2 likes
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