Madeline's Reviews > The Tent

The Tent by Margaret Atwood
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Dec 28, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: all-time-favorites

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's Not Easy Being Half-Divine", "Encouraging the Young", "Our Cat Enters Heaven", "Three Novels I Won't Write Soon", and "But It Could Still".

Here's two of my favorite parts.
First, from "Take Charge":
"-Sir, their diabolical worm virus has infected our missile command system. It's eating the software like candy.
-Don't just lounge there, you dickhead! Get going with the firewalls, or whatever you use.
-Sir, I'm a screen monitor, not a troubleshooter.
-Shit in a bucket, what do they think we're running here, a beauty parlor? If you can't do it, where's the nerdy spot-faced geek who can?
-Sir, it was him wrote the virus. He was not a team player, Sir. The missiles have already launched and they're heading straight for us.
-No help for it, I'll have to do it myself. Hand me that sledgehammer.
-Sir, we've got sixty seconds.
-Well do the best you can."

From "Orphan Stories":
"Now the letters will arrive, from orphans. How could you treat orphanhood so lightly! they will say. You don't understand what it's like to be an orphan. You are the sort of person who jeers at those with no legs. You are frivilous and cruel. You are harsh.
Ah yes, dear orphans. I can see how you would feel that way. But to notice is not to disparage. All observations of life are harsh, because life is. I lament that fact, but I cannot change it.
(And consider: It is loss to which everything flows, absence in which everything flowers. It is you, not we, who have always been the children of the gods.)"
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El If you haven't already read Atwood's Moral Disorder: and Other Stories, I highly recommend that one. I was lukewarm on The Tent, but felt Moral Disorder fell more in line with what I know and love about Atwood as far as short stories go.


Madeline This is the first short story collection I've read by Atwood - before this I just read some of her novels - but I will definitely be looking for more of her short stories and poetry books. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll look for it on my next library trip.


message 3: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica I just marked both books to read. I have always enjoyed her short stories. I haven't read her recently. Has her witing style changed at all? Just curious, Jess


message 4: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Madeline, in that case I also highly recommend Wilderness Tips - it's probably my favorite short story collection of Atwood's.


Jessica, I do feel her writing style has changed over the years. I have not been as happy with a lot of her more recent books than I have been with the ones in the past. Newer books like The Penelopiad could have had so many more layers to it, I felt it just wasn't up to Atwood's standards. Regardless she is one of those authors I will always read, no matter what she puts out.


Madeline Amen, sister. Amen.
*bows at Atwood's feet*


Cecily Wonderful review. It was the exact same lines from Orphan Stories that stood out most for me, too.


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