Moral Disorder: and Other Stories
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Moral Disorder: and Other Stories

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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  5,450 ratings  ·  590 reviews
In Moral Disorder, she has created a series of interconnected stories that trace the course of a life and also the lives intertwined with those of parents, of siblings, of children, of friends, of enemies, of teachers, and even of animals. As in a photograph album, time is measured in sharp, clearly observed moments. The '30s, the '40s, the '50s, the '60s, the '70s, the '8...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Nan A. Talese (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Ellen
It's me, not you, I want to apologize to Margaret Atwood. One of my all-time favorite authors, who I consider one of my oldest and best friends, although we've never met. I have fallen out of love with her. I confess to not having finished the book. This is unheard of, like not having a second slice of pizza. I won't go as far as to say there is a sense of stagnation in the stories. Perhaps she has all too successfully evoked the ennui of average life. Attempting a committed and thorough read, I...more
Marigold
Margaret Atwood = writer I am most intimidated yet inspired by. These short stories form a semi-autobiographical sketch about a woman, Nell, from childhood through into her 60's, but are not in chronological order. The stories focus on her relationships with her parents, husband, sister, husband's ex-wife, and more. It's like getting a box of really cool photographs of someone you don't know, & their family, & you're trying to piece together their story from the photos & figure out w...more
Sarah
I noticed some reveiws are not so favorable for this book.
As an avid Atwoodian, I was struck by the similar themes running through this collection of vignettes about girlhood and growing up, childhood perception, adulthood reflection, memory and aging that appear in her earlier work (Cat's Eye, Edible Woman, Wilderness Tips) because it seems like a return to previous ideas but from a different vantage point informed by the deaths of family members and one's own aging. At times the stories seem a...more
Jennifer Barrett
I chose to read Moral Disorder for my next Atwood book because it was a book of short stories. I thought it would be a good decision as it would be easy to read during my sporadic down time. I will not go so far as to say that Atwood deceived me, however after the third story I realized how truly misinformed I had been. The picturesque narrative of a woman’s life bounds along seamlessly with ever-changing perspective from first to third person views and makes the book impossible to put down.
“Bad...more
Stephen
Does anyone write crisper, cleaner English than Margaret Atwood? A few hundred of her sentences per day might help all of us write better. So, on the level of language, no complaints! In other ways, though, this is an uneven collection. It begins brilliantly and ends well, but the middle sections about the narrator and her life with Tig in the countryside just did not engage me. The problem may arise in part from the somewhat ambiguous nature of this book. Is it a collection of short stories or...more
Marissa
Margaret Atwood is of course, as we all know, awesome sauce. This was definitely a work in a different vein than her science fiction stuff, but it has the same dark, menacing tone that she does so well. You can feel her subconscious twisting these stories out, which are unsettlingly mundane. The book reminded me about the vague, intuitive terror of adulthood and the passing of time that I feel the edge of almost all the time these days. Here's a quote:

"I would have to go into the tunnel whether...more
Evanston Public  Library
Margaret Atwood has a clever way of moving through the decades in this collection of related stories. The recurring main character, Nell, is a little girl anxious about the impending birth of a sibling in the 30s, a teenager just realizing that she's miles ahead of her boyfriend in intelligence and maturity in the 50s, a slightly rootless young woman in the 90s.
Somehow this all works with Atwood's smooth handling, and as we read of the mostly trivial trials and tribulations that Nell faces, we...more
Kate
What a wonderful read! If you haven't noticed, I've been on a bit of an Atwood kick lately, and while this one is very different than her dystopian novels I've been reading, I absolutely LOVE getting lost in the lush prose word forests of such an incredible mind.

This short story collection features snippets of one woman's life told in marvelous details that skip across time, just like memories do. However, they also fit together and tell a larger story: one of being incredibly human, full of los...more
Cynthia
I listened to these short stories in the car after dropping my youngest daughter off at college. It was a perfect match for my emotional mother heart.

These are family stories, I believe they must be autobiographical. My favorite was about the elderly realtor.

Themes: marriage, sisters, attempts at farming.
Amanda
FU GR app for losing my review. It was one of the best reviews I've ever written and I'm too lazy (and forgetful) to recreate it. So I guess, also, FU me for being lazy and forgetful. Anyway, this book is a great representative of Margaret Atwood's writing. She is the best best writer of the human psyche as I've experienced it. I was saying how I feel sorry for her characters for never ending up happy, but even still, I love how she can express a human in the most beautiful complicated labyrinth...more
Yossarian
To me it seemed to be about how we tell stories to ourselves to make sense of ourselves. How we construct our identity, what we present, what we hide, what we distort... It has an autobiographical feel, though I think Atwood has said it is not – but what is an autobiography if not trying to make sense of ourselves through stories. And how that telling of episodes change throughout our lives depending on who we are at that moment, or what our needs are.

It is ambiguous whether the stories concern...more
Emily Rae
Atwood has a beautiful way of describing life and its experiences so accurately. On the first page she writes,

"I think of bad news as a huge bird, with the wings of a crow and the face of my Grade Four school teacher, sparse bun, rancid teeth, wrinkly frown, pursed mouth and all, sailing around the world under cover of darkness pleased to be the bearer of ill tidings, carrying a basket of rotten eggs, and knowing- as the sun comes up- exactly where to drop them. On me, for one."

I am amazed th...more
Jennifer
I've read through many of Margaret Atwood's books,I like her writing style, though it tends to suck me into an (even more) introspective spiral that it takes a few days to crawl back out of. She writes with a very internal-sensory-perception that comes so close to something that is beyond our human abilities thus far - which is being truly inside someone else's mind. With many of her books you can get lost in the passages of someone else's thoughts and experiences. With an occasional insights th...more
Kate
Mar 26, 2010 Kate added it
This book is, to my mind, a model of what a linked short story collection should be. 1. Each of the stories can stand on its own. None read like fragments of a larger story. 2. Yet, the collection as a whole has a sense of continuity and wholeness. The whole is something more than the sum of its parts. 3. Finally, there’s a reason why it’s a short story collection rather than a novel. It focuses on the life of a single character (Nell), but in tracing that life through short stories, Atwood is a...more
Ingrid
As usual, I find myself struggling to articulate exactly why I enjoyed this book so much. The NYTimes review on the inside flap seems to fit my sentiments: "The reader has the sense that Atwood has complete access to her people's emotional histories, complete understanding of their hearts and imaginations." Indeed, the author describes her characters' feelings and situations with lovely but not overbearing detail.

I also very much enjoyed the format of the book. It took me a little while to get i...more
Michael
This book should have been subtitled: "Sh!t happens."

A collection of short stories about a woman from childhood to old age, this book touches into Nell's life at odd, disjointed moments, usually as she is going through the worst periods of her life. Dealing with fear, pain, anxiety, depression, sickness, we miss out on all the good moments of falling in love and joy. Without that connective tissue, it's hard to care what happens to her.

Which is not to say that it is without merit. Atwood is a di...more
Carey
This was my first time reading Margaret Atwood and I loved her writing style. I usually am not a big fan of short stories. They typically leave me wanting more, or there just isn't enough for me to get lost in the story and care about the characters. So I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. While each story could stand on its own, they were strengthened by being a part of the collection. Each story follows the same main character from girlhood through old age, giving the reader little g...more
Kate
What a wonderful read! If you haven't noticed, I've been on a bit of an Atwood kick lately, and while this one is very different than her dystopian novels I've been reading, I absolutely LOVE getting lost in the lush prose word forests of such an incredible mind.

This short story collection features snippets of one woman's life told in marvelous details that skip across time, just like memories do. However, they also fit together and tell a larger story: one of being incredibly human, full of los...more
Jules
Typical Atwood, written at emotional arms-length and full of dangling questions, uncertain motivations, and vivid moments of beauty. Alternating between tantalizingly oblique and irritatingly intangible. For me, short stories not being my bag in general, the collected-short-stories-about-one-character format was an improvement; it felt more substantial.

I think this would've made a good book club book because there's a lot I find ambiguous and discussion-worthy; I'm sure it would read different w...more
Portia S
Out of all the books I was reading right now, this was one I could not put down. Even though it does indeed consist of short stories, they are all related and revolve around the same main character. It is said to be autobiographical, which has proven to be quite interesting. The youngest age the main character is shown at is 11, full of plans; the oldest is past 60 full of reflection. From there she goes through teenage to young upcoming editor, her trials of love and family life are highlighted...more
Akeiisa
In this collection of well written short stories, Atwood seems to display a more personal side. Most of the stories are connected with characters appearing at different times in their lives. With themes of independence, freedom, and aging recurring, these stories reflect on how these can mean different things at various points - with a particular generation or at a certain age.
Guilie
This is the first non-dystopia I read from Margaret Atwood, and I loved it. A collection of short stories that tell a whole story with Atwood's trademark incision into the nature of human conflict. Descriptions cut to the chase and build onto the story's mood. Each story stands poignantly alone, and yet at the end of each you're so glad there's more coming--except at the last one, which made me turn back and reread the whole thing again. I suspect I'll be doing that more often.
Katie Heinrich
Best (or critically important to the text) Quotes:

"They always want to kill the leaders. With the best of intentions, or so they claim. The leaders have the best of intentions as well. The leaders stand in the spotlight, the killers aim from the dark; it’s easy to score."

"Once, this might have been an argument. Now it’s a pastime, like gin rummy."

"eerie politeness"

"On the other hand, it’s his general view that Rome is going to hell in a handcart, and I’ve noticed that most retired men feel like...more
Erika
Horribly boring. You think in the beginning it is going to get better, it has a few good things, but you just keep thinking that through the whole thing. I didn't even finnish it, which I never do no matter how bad the book. I did it through audio, which I guess might have added to that, the reader being very slow and all, but it did not do the job of keeping me awake at work.
Charles
This is a book that never would have made it onto my radar if I weren’t in a book club. Which I guess is why I’m in the club; to “force” myself to read books that I wouldn’t otherwise consider. I think it’s safe to say that if I had never read this book, I wouldn’t have missed much.

I’m not much of a fiction reader, and the fiction I do read tends to be either science fiction or fantasy. I don’t really see the point of writing fake stories about normal stuff. I think I probably read more non-fic...more
Misha
Atwood's writing is crisp, but the book is somewhat uneven. It straddles the line between novel and short story collection, not quite setting foot on either side. The stories aren't quite self-contained, but they're discreet enough that I can't quite consider them chapters in a novel. It's an interesting construct, chock full of the usual Atwood themes.
Courtney
I really related to this book, even more than usual for an Atwood book. I love her writing, but in this one there were a lot of moments or lines that seemed tailor-made for me. I got a bit lost in the last few chapters that dealt with the narrator's ageing parents, but I think just because that wasn't as relevant to my life yet. I really liked this one.
Grace
My first though when I finished this book was, "damn, I wish I'd read more closely at the beginning." The stories are not chronological, nor do they all have the same point of view, but they are all about the same woman, at different points in her life/history. Had I paid more attention at the beginning, though, I wouldn't have ended up confused about how exactly a few minor characters fit in to her narrative. That said, it speaks well of the book that I cared enough at the end to go back and pa...more
Zare K
Meh. I usually love Margaret Atwood's work, and sometimes studies of the minutiae of daily life and relationships can be quite compelling. This is not one of those times. These stories are merely lost in the mundane, largely absent of interesting characters or compelling details, and ultimately rather dull.
Adam Hegg
I genuinely loved this book. Not unlike A Visit From the Goon Squad it was a collection of loosely connected short stories each building on the other to leave me feeling more satisfied than would have a single narrative. This is my first Atwood in many years and certainly not my last.
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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
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“She wasn't ready to settle down, she told her friends. That was one way of putting it. Another was would have been that she had not found anyone to settle down with. There had been several men in her life, but they hadn't been convincing. They'd been somewhat like her table - quickly acquired, brightened up a little, but temporary. The time for that kind of thing was running out, however. She was tired of renting.” 50 likes
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