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The Tent

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,447 ratings  ·  334 reviews
One of the world's most celebrated authors, Margaret Atwood has penned a collection of smart and entertaining fictional essays, in the genre of her popular books Good Bones and Murder in the Dark, punctuated with wonderful illustrations by the author. Chilling and witty, prescient and personal, delectable and tart, these highly imaginative, vintage Atwoodian mini-fictions ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Knopf Doubleday (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jun 28, 2007 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dreamers of dreams, short ones
This book is blindingly good. I am actually blind now. I cannot see the words I am typing. I don't care, I will keep typing to extol the virtues of Margaret Atwood's prose. Let me count the ways.'s hard to describe. She just tells, in this book, these minute, compact stories that shatter appearances. She tells the truth, and she tells it with a thesaurus that could obliterate you if it fell from a height onto your body. You would be pulped, a red smear on the pavement, or salt flats, or ...more
The blurb by The Seattle Times on the back of this book said it best: "When Margaret Atwood is good, she's very good. And when she's barbed, she's better."

A collection of impossibly short stories (a few of them are less than a page long) written as only Margaret Atwood can write them, and accompanied by her own illustrations. This is a good quick read - since the stories are all so short, I was able to finish the whole collection in about half an hour. Here's a sample of some of the titles: "It'
For the record, this is the first time I've actually finished a Margaret Atwood book. I've tried 3 times, 3 separate books, over the last 15 years to read her. I always find her books incredibly intriguing, but then I always for some reason lose interest (The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin) or get frustrated with her writing style (The Handmaid's Tale). But I'm obviously in the minority here - many people I know whose opinions I respect and honor LOVE Margaret Atwood and probably think I'm nut ...more
Cheyenne Blue
To Margaret Atwood: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I've long been a fan of Margaret Atwood, ever since I read The Handmaid's Tale, one of the most frightening books I've ever read. Then she did a reading of 'Oryx and Crake' at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver which I attended. I was on crutches at the time with a broken ankle, and she was charm personified, and suggested I find a cat to purr over my ankle.

The blurb on the front of 'The Tent' (from the Sunday Times) says: Atwood
Laura Anderson
Mmm, delicious. I love Margaret Atwood's work, and this short book of 'fictional essays' was no exception. If I could have gobbled this book down whole so that the words seeped into my body I would have. What a wonderful book - a light, quick read with depth, wit and intelligence. Illustrations by the author add to the experience, and some of the stories had me laughing out loud with joy.

I'm going to go blend it up in my smoothie maker and see if I can drink it in a bit more.

(Only joking - it's
Lots of VERY short but thought-provoking pieces. They are varied, though many involve common Atwood themes (relationships, environmental catastrophe, heaven and hell, women). Some are quite poetic and a few are actual poems; there is an allegorical riddle, or perhaps it's a riddling allegory. There are also a few faux-naive woodcut illustrations.

You could easily read the whole thing in an hour or two, but you'd probably feel sea-sick and you really wouldn't appreciate them. Because they are so b
Oct 13, 2010 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Atwood fans and people who like metaphor.
I want this book! Somebody buy it for me and I will repay you buy saying "thank you" one time.

I'm just kidding. Don't buy it for me. Don't! I'll buy it myself.
Anyway, I read about a quarter of it while sitting in Borders in NYC one morning. My god, it is everything I love about Margaret Atwood! I can't help myself. I just love her. She has a certain way of turning real life into eautiful poetic narrative.

And then... Two years later...
I finally own this book (thank you Ed McKay!) and am in readi
Snippets of unfinished stories --> some only a paragraph long. It was as if Margaret Atwood had died and somebody dug out her journals to publish whatever was left. very strange.
Alex Lee
I'm a fan of Margaret Atwood. I wasn't sure what to expect of this book. While the cover claims it's a collection of essays, this book is more like a collection of impressions that aren't formulated into what we may traditionally know of as a narrative (although there are narrative voices)... while at the same time, the collection doesn't make as much a thesis-point as the traditional anglo-saxon epistemic essay structure. So it's a little difficult for me to write a review in that sense. I thin ...more
The sad fate of any short story collection is that it's always going to be a hit-and-miss affair (unless you're Borges, of course, but we should all just come to terms with the fact that, sadly, we are not Borges and we never will be), and this one is no different. Overall, this is a very strong collection that feels very coherent despite the diversity in the subject matter.

Atwood writes about some of my favourite subjects (mythology, feminism, time, identity, even the heritage industry makes a
I shelved this as poetry - it is precious, poetical prose. Very short pieces with illustrations by the author. They are full of the elegant language that endears Atwood's works to me. They are indulgences that only a very successful writer could ever manage to assemble into a book. Some were published before in a variety of little magazines.

"No More Photos"

No more photos. Surely there are enough. No more shadows of myself
thrown by light onto pieces of paper, onto squares of plastic. No more
of my
A quirky, enjoyable book of philosophical meditations and (very) short fictions. Mostly macabre and a little bit melancholy, but also with sly, ferocious humor. I particularly liked the story in which she imagined God as a cat (no one is surprised that I particularly liked that story, but it ended up being a really sadistic one--not at all cutesy as you might imagine from my cat-based endorsement), and I also liked the allegory of "The Tent" that provides the collection's name. A defense of the ...more
Iso Cambia
I'm working on my life story. I don't mean I'm putting it together; no, I'm taking it apart. It's mostly a question of editing. (4)

Fish are not the rival of stones. (17)

No more photos. Surely there are enough. No more shadows of myself thrown by light onto pieces of paper, onto squares of plastic. No more of my eyes, mouths, noses, moods, bad angles. No more yawns, teeth, wrinkles. I suffer from my own multiplicity. Two or three images would have been enough, or four,
Nate D
I had a feeling that I could scoop this up at a significant discount if I just exercised patience. This has proven true. I need to go to the Strand more.


Despite being somewhat unhelpfully labeled as a collection of "fictional essays" on the dustjacket, this slim volume is perhaps somewhere between a book of short stories and poetry. Vignettes, perhaps. The pieces themselves are tiny, often a page or less, and the pages are quite small themselves. In favorable light, they could be said to be e
I virtually never leave a book unfinished, but after 50 pages I couldn't take any more. A collection of great short stories is a thing to startle and impress; unfortunately, this isn't. Part of it may be length: at only 3-4 pages per, the stories would have to be amazing as hell - sadly, they're largely banal. One can imagine a Creative Writing prof handing back any of these stories with a note saying "Good idea - now DEVELOP!" Seeds? Yes. Stories? No.

I've always heard universal praise for Atwoo
So many favourites in this wee tome. I am not sure I could put one before another. Each story I have dipped into entices me, entrances and captures me and claims the title of the best in the collection. And then I turn the page and there is another temptress awaiting my attention. I have loved having this book at my fingertips, to dip into and indulge myself. Now it is time for it to go back to its owners book shelf so another lucky fan can enjoy it.

As a footnote. I would say the Post-Colonial p
Most of the pieces in this are too short to accurately be called short stories. Some are fiction, some are essays, but all are micro-sized. And that makes them read a bit like poetry. There's a lot crammed into every phrase. The variety of topics is huge, too. Many incorporate a fantasy element, some are full of satire, some are just silly or fun, and some I simply didn't "get" at all. "Post-Colonial" is a straightforward, incisive essay about "us" and "them". I read them all practially in one s ...more
Some very interesting and lovely mini-essays, and some a little tedious, even at their small size. A nice break and worth the time.

well this was an interesting start to my new year's 'read literary' challenge

here's the thing: margaret atwood's writing style in this book is similar enough to my own that i have a hard time knowing how to judge it

this is very much the book i would write if i had some slight personality changes and was interested enough in writing to stick it out for a book

(mine would have had more jokes because i can only suppress the goof for so long)

i enjoyed it but i don't really feel like it stretched m
May 05, 2008 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Atwoodoholics, people with short attention spans, people who like wicked laughs
This is a collection of microfictions, prose poems, and other oddities. In it Atwood ventriloquizes mythical beings, tells the other sides of stories, spins vast symbolic tales of ruin, and even seems to directly address the reader.

Basically, it's 155 pages of really good random stuff by Margaret Atwood. As if Atwood had a blog. And be honest. If Atwood had a blog, wouldn't you read it?
I definitely did not get all the pieces (I'm not sure if that's because I was not supposed to or if I am not advanced enough of a reader) but the ones I did blew me away. Even the ones i didn't "get" lingered with me due to Atwood's ridiculous talent. I mean, her writing is so freaking crafty, original, haunting, its like witchcraft, it doesn't seem possible. shes so far out of most authors' league.
This was also my first go at a 'short stories/essays' type book, and i quickly realized how much
Read the entirety while babysitting last night - does one have to be famous and beloved already to have a book of fragments published? I probably have enough bits and pieces, not to mention better illustrations, lying around my apartment... this is not to disparage the book at all - I very much liked it.
This is a great collection of very very short... Musings. Some are essays, some are poems, but the majority are what I might call musings. And they are fascinating.

The ones that stuck out for me were "The Animals Reject Their Names", a poem which details a sort of un-creation; "Take Charge", which undresses several similar situations through analogy and renders them somehow ridiculous, and somehow meaningful; and "Faster", less than a page long, which is perfectly applicable to our adaptation of
This is a very different type of Margaret Atwood for me. I love her books, and The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books of all time. This collection of abstract tales are more snippets than tales or stories. Some are so short that they are just a page. The longest was maybe four. I skipped around and took my time. Some were incredibly profound and I found myself going back to them again. Some felt as if I shouldn't have read them because they were private. Others I wasn't interested in an ...more
Lovely little book which reads so quickly; there are some definite gems in there.
Kurt Gottschalk
It's hard to say what this book is exactly, other than wonderful. It may just be unfinished story ideas although I don't think so since they don't seem unfinished. Yet they're too slight to be short stories. The three dozen entries here (few more than three pages in length) sometimes seem like exercises - if by a very fit writer. Atwood works with different voices and structures but the sensibility is always her own. It might not hold together particularly well for someone who hasn't read at lea ...more
Picked this up strolling through the library one day, because I've had another Atwood on my to-read list for a long time but they didn't have it. First Atwood I ever read. I must confess! I didn't really get what was going on for about the first half dozen stories, and almost gave up on the book. The stories are *so* short. And I could tell they were good and well-written and clever, but I knew that I was missing the point. Kept thinking I should have read this in an English class or looked up s ...more
“your tent is made of paper”

Reminiscent in look and style of Good Bones and Simple Murders (1994), The Tent (2006) is a short collection of Margaret Atwood’s stories, prose, and poetry – much of it more recent, some of it previously published elsewhere (including “The Walrus,” “Harper’s Magazine,” and several special fundraising anthologies). As with three-poled tents, THE TENT is “supported,” in a manner of speaking, by three sections of related material.

While the stories are varied and di
At this the dictionaries began to untwist,
and time stalled and reversed;
the sweaters wound back into their balls of wool,
which rolled bleating out into the meadows;


Squashed mice were shot backwards out of traps,
brides and grooms uncoupled like shunting trains,
tins of sardines exploded, releasing their wiggling shoals;
dinosaur bones whizzed like missiles
out of museums back to the badlands,
and bullets flew sizzling into their guns.


and everywhere
the children shrank and began to
drop teeth and
This was a very unique set of stories about a lot of different issues. Some I liked, some I didn't. Some I totally related to and others I wasn't sure what to make of. This is a book I wish I could've read with a bookgroup. The stories beg to be discussed.

Here are some of my favorite quotes/thoughts:

From "Bottle":

-I only want to be like everyone else, I said.

-You're not, though, was what he told me. You're not like them.

-Why not? I said. I was inclined to listen to him. He had a persuasive mann
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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 about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2) Alias Grace

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