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Moral Disorder and Other Stories

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  10,436 ratings  ·  1,030 reviews
Margaret Atwood is acknowledged as one of the foremost writers of our time. In Moral Disorder she has created a series of interconnected stories that trace the course of a life and also the lives intertwined with it--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, cle ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Nan A. Talese (first published September 4th 2006)
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Mar 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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 which order t ...more
May 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Barrett
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ashley Daviau
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think if anyone but Atwood had written this it would have been a bit boring. But Atwood has such a way with words that she makes even the most ordinary tale absolutely fascinating! That’s what I love about her writing, she could write a grocery list and it would be beautiful. This is definitely not my favourite of hers but I did still thoroughly enjoy it! I don’t think this is the book to start with if you haven’t read any Atwood yet, read her more well known work and then you’ll be able to fu ...more
Stephen Durrant
Apr 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

While reading Margaret Atwood’s Moral Disorder I kept remembering William Burroughs’s wish that his Naked Lunch be read in any order and direction. In his case, it was an attempt to challenge the narrative by denying chronology – no event could pretend to have happened before or after another.

There is a similar attempt towards the dissolution of the novel In Margaret Atwood’s book, for every “chapter” can also be read independently, but in this case more as a suggestion that life is a series of
Abbie | ab_reads
3.5 stars

Any book I read after the epic conclusion to Hobb’s Realm of the Elderling series was bound to feel a bit flat, so I thought I’d turn to the queen that is Atwood! Although I ‘only’ rated this one a 3.5, that’s in relation to other Atwoods - an Atwood 3.5 is still better than most!
In another author’s hands Moral Disorder might have been dull. A series of interconnected vignettes, pinpointing crucial moments, periods and scenarios in one woman’s life through her childhood as an unwilling
Will Ansbacher
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is described as a collection of short stories but it is actually a series of portraits of one person. So although you could, you wouldn’t really want to read them out of order. They chronicle the life of Nell (though we don’t know her name for the first part of the book as it’s written in the first person), with Atwood’s usual sharp observations and dry wit.

Nell was born in the thirties and grew up well before the social changes of the sixties, so is a bit uncomfortable with them. In one e
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

A collection of short-stories written by our own Atwood, has 11 connected stories showing different times of a family. Their pains, struggles through a female protagonist, Nell. The last story is supposed to be her own and not connected to others.

The Bad News is the present of our Protagonist where she is an old woman and her husband Tig, who too is old and seen sharing talks on the news in the newspaper and Nell reflects on how they have grown used to each other's habit which chang
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every time I read a book by Margaret Atwood, I’m reminded how much I like her writing. My sister has a somewhat different view; I remember telling her how much I liked The Blind Assassin, and she replied, “Atwood? Quite bleak, eh?” It is true that there is a hard edge to Ms. Atwood’s writing; she does not suffer fools, and she has a rather stoic view of life. Compassion and love do not flow freely from her. And yet, there is love in her writing, the quiet abiding kind, and it co-exists along wit ...more
The title came from Atwood’s late partner, Graeme Gibson, who stopped writing novels in 1996 and gave her permission to reuse the name of his work in progress. It suggests that all is not quite as it should be. Then again, morality is subjective. Though her parents disapprove of Nell setting up a household with Tig, who is still married to Oona, the mother of his children, theirs ends up being a stable and traditional relationship; nothing salacious about it.

The first five and last two stories a
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Atwood ever. I'm surprised how much I like this book. It's a collection of quite wonderful short stories which all belong together and tell episodes from the life of Nell. Every story has a different atmosphere. I enjoyed her writing so much that after finishing the last story I started again with the first one just to see wether the reading would feel different with having in mind the other stories. Highly recommended. ...more
capture stories
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Moral Disorder consists of 11 short stories, vignettes, a touch of Memoir but not precisely that, sounds like an autobiography, though it does not fit fully into that genre. Words that glimpse, crisp, and gasp like walking through a time tunnel that features various stages of the characters’ lives, which are not in chronological order. The main character, “Nell,” is a compelling character who changes roles from a daughter to a sister then becoming “mistress,” only in the end has she adopted a wi ...more
Mary Soderstrom
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
During our recent trip to Europe, I thought about books a lot. Margaret Atwood's short story collection Moral Disorder was one that kept coming to mind after a day spent in the 1800 year old Roman ruins at Conínbriga, Portugal.

These stories are about the best things Atwood has written in a couple of decades, in my opinion. She opens herself up as she has rarely, writing about people who are very much like herself and her family. At first the reader may think the stories are unrelated, but each
I did not like these stories much. They are too disjointed for me to follow easily but the biggest annoyance for me was the character of Nell. She was just one of those creations that drove me crazy. Her attitudes to life and other people were frustrating for me, I did actually spend a bit of time yelling at a fictional person I got so irked.
Francine Maessen
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Oooooh, that was soooo good.

It took me more time to read than I expected, just because it was so good. After every story I had to put this book down for at least an hour because I needed to recover from another amazing story, I needed time to reflect. Atwood's descriptions are marvelous, and I love the characters in these stories. Especially from a feminist point of view: although all the main characters in this book are female, they are never defined by their femininity. It's just not seen as r
Holley Rubinsky
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Published in 2006, the stories in Moral Disorder must be Margaret Atwood's fictional autobiography of her childhood. I loved this book when I realized that this recollection of experiences was her take on that part of her life. Atwood these days can seem very remote, a distant star, yet these stories take the reader into the heart and, even more exciting, the mind and insights of a bright, bright child. Her character, unnamed in the intimate first-person narratives, writes at the end of the capt ...more
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Emily Rae
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dec 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite sure what to think about this collection of 11 connected short stories about the hidden pain and suffering within a family and the protagonist's life. It's wonderfully written as per; the characterisation of the main character is superbly crafted. I honestly could put this down, when I wanted to and forced myself to finish it.. which was nice, because I really really enjoyed the final story. Still a must-read for Atwood fans, for the structure and styles (!) of the book alone.

Debbie Lamb
I really felt I was in a random sock drawer trying to pair them. There are some beautiful lines of prose but that doesn't make up for me feeling completely adrift trying to anchor to something. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Third short story collection by Margaret Atwood within a week and I believe I might be finally ready to read her in long form. After all, this one was more or less a novel told in short stories. I’m still very much enjoying her writing, whether its speculative or representational, she seems to bring a striking verisimilitude to every page. It’s a quiet sort of beauty and you have to be in the mood for it, but it’s really lovely. And the title is just awesome. Moral Disorder. Atwood stole it from ...more
The Brain in the Jar
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: realism, minimalism
I’m not sure how to react this. This shouldn’t happen. Moral Disorder is part of a literary movement that’s close to me. Stories about the daily lives of people grab me like no other. I can forgive many flaws – lack of characters, lack of narrative structure – if the events are vivid enough.

Something about this literature is so lifelike. The grandmaster, Raymond Carver, didn’t have in-depth psychology and his stories rarely concludd. Yet his prose felt so intimate. He made you feel like you’re a
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
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
There is no denying that Margaret Atwood is a fine writer. "Moral Disorder" is funny and touching and it provides an insight into domestic family life in all its horrors. As in a photograph album, time is measured in sharp, clearly observed moments. She entices readers to flip through the photo album of a Canadian woman who closely resembles herself. The writer takes the reader along on an emotional journey through loneliness, love, loss and old age. The secret resentments and alignments--diffic ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm disappointed, Margaret.

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Parts are great - the parts that are consistent, but then the inconsistencies that surround those parts annoy the heck out of me. It's first person, third person, and first person again. Pick a "person" and stick with "them," would ya? Then there were the varying tenses, which I won't even go into... but they ARE there.

The main character bugged me, especially when speaking of her dealings with Tig, Oona, and Tig + Oona.
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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

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