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Good Bones and Simple Murders

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,643 ratings  ·  247 reviews
In this collection of short works that defy easy categorization, Margaret Atwood displays, in condensed and crystallized form, the trademark wit and viruosity of her best-selling novels, brilliant stories, and insightful poetry. Among the jewels gathered here are Gertrude offering Hamlet a piece of her mind, the real truth about the Little Red Hen, a reincarnated bat expla ...more
Hardcover, 165 pages
Published November 6th 2001 by Nan A. Talese (first published December 1994)
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3.91  · 
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 ·  2,643 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Margaret Atwood's books, especially Cat's Eye, The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride, and Alias Grace, but this book of short essays and poems, not as much. There are some witty passages and astute messages here about women's life and feminism and I enjoyed the skewed retelling of fairy tales, like "The Little Red Hen Tells All" and "Unpopular Gals" about wicked witches and ugly step sisters. This especially sums up the genre:

"Catch it. Put it in a pumpkin, in a high tower, in a compound
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Margaret Atwood. Her witticism is so incongruous that it seems innate. Good Bones and Simple Murders is a compilation of harrowing, liberating and reincarnating tales. It debunks what had been firmly holding grounds for years. It is anecdotal at its best.

I picked up this book to read "Gertrude Talks Back", but one thing led to another and now, I am mesmerised by it. It is sharp. It is witty. It is cleverly and poignantly written. Atwood's illustration is as vibrant and provocative as her
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I've always been a huge fan of Margaret Atwood, but I'm not always a fan of short stories. & when I do read them I prefer to read them one at a time - maybe in a magazine.

But I just jumped into this one and at first I couldn't put it down. All my favourite stories in this collection were at the start. The were sharp witty & clever. But it is the same strong yet enigmatic voice right through, so I did have to keep putting this collection down. So while I loved Murder in the Dark & Ger
Chris Dietzel
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great collection of short stories that felt much more experimental in style and approach than most others I've read. Reading most of this felt like the equivalent of listening to a great band as they practice in a garage before going to a studio to record a finished, polished product. Coming from an author I love that was an incredibly neat experience. There were one or two stories that fell flat for me but there were also stories like "Gertrude Talks Back" that I absolutely loved.
Jenny Maloney
I read the first story of this book, "Murder in the Dark," and when I was finished I turned to my husband, shoved the book in his hand, told him to read it and then he was to tell me HOW DID SHE DO THAT?

He didn't really have an answer but his comment defined what I thought of the rest of the book: "It's written with the confidence of someone who knows she can hit a homerun every time."

Confidence oozes through every one of these pieces.

Least faves (because they just seemed a little too forced
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Margaret Atwood
23 Things that yours truly learned from reading Good Bones And Simple Moiduh:

1. In the game of mystery, the murderer is the writer. The detective is the reader. And the victim is the book.
2. But sometimes, the murderer is (still) the writer. The detective is the critic. The victim is the reader.
3. Your depression, my friend, is the revenge of oranges.
4. It wasn't Claudius who killed the King of Denmark. 'Twas Gertrude!
5. Repression breeds sublimation.

6. When you're having sex with Raymond Chand
Jamilla Rice
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although this book of short stories is brief, it is very dense and is not a quick read. In fact, most (if not all) of the stories beg for a re-read in order to catch Atwood’s subtleties. As a whole, the pieces have a strong feminist theme threaded throughout, with a gifted writer’s sense of humor in the crafting of the written word. Economically sound and imaginative, there’s a story in here for everyone, although everyone may not like all of the stories. There were quite a few individual storie ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was dark, twisted, and magnificent. It gently caressed the darkest parts of me.

Yet, in this strange place there was great humor and wit.

I appreciate the chance to laughingly embrace the unacceptable.
Oct 09, 2007 rated it liked it
I re-read these short stories, many of which would now be called flash fiction, and although they are not my favorite of her work, I did appreciate the frequent sarcasm and at times humorous commentary from the feminist perspective. A quick read.
Aj Sterkel
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The synopsis of this book isn’t wrong when it says that these stories are hard to categorize. I mean, what even are these things? I guess I’d call them flash fiction or prose poetry. Each story/poem/essay/dialogue thing is only a few pages long. They cover a variety of genres, from realism to magical realism to fairytales to sci-fi. Most of them have a strong feminist slant. Some are abstract; some are straightforward. Some are accompanied by Margaret Atwood’s weird artwork. They’re all beautifu ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve just recently (finally) read Atwood’s Stone Mattress for the first time and realized how much I love her writing, so naturally now I want to check out more of it. This collection is very different from Stone Mattress, wherein the first featured more traditional narratives and linear plots, this is all play and whimsy, albeit with a very serious feminist angle to it. These stories are snippets, clever things, original takes of well known works from different women’s perspectives, worldplays, ...more
Watch a brilliant imagination at work.

Margaret Atwood creates men in her kitchen, convinces us she was a bat in a former life, makes lepers dance. There’s some weird stuff in here. It’s seriously playful, and playfully serious.

Put yourself in a different room,” she says in the story Bread. “That’s what the mind is for.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed these very short stories, though the book physically was a mess. The printing was off kilter so a lot of the pages had letters cut off. Oh well. Some of these stories took my breath, others were just meh.

p.15 The I'll do it myself, I said, as the nun quipped to the vibrator. Nobody was listening, of course. They'd all gone to the beach. (What???? Lol this made me ask WTF)

p.16-17** They said it was my fault, for having a loaf of bread when they had none. ... Here, I said. I apologize f
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The beginning chapters definitely seemed to be in defense of the villains in fairy tales such as Cinderella's evil stepmother. It was quite riveting and easy to follow.

However, towards the middle and end the tone changed to something more serious. There were more scathing comments about the way society views relationships and gender roles. It was quite interesting, but not what I was expecting when I first downloaded the e-audiobook.

I guess it would have been easier to follow if I was reading i
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Atwood's books tend to really be hits or misses for me. This collection was more of a hit than a miss, and a thematically sound. Good Bones and Simple Murders is a phenomenal title and encapsulates the spirit of the stories. But for every story I really enjoyed, there was a story that exemplified what often frustrates me about Atwood's work.

My favorites were "Stump Hunting," "Making a Man," and "Poppies: Three Variations." "Stump Hunting" and "Making a Man" are both how-to guides. "Stump Huntin
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read as a part of #MARM, I took my time with this one as I found if I read too many of these short little...essays? tidbits? thoughts? they blended together and were not as impactful. Some of them I really enjoyed, others were very vague or abstract and I felt they were maybe over my head? Happy Endings was by far my favorite. I find I'm not a huge fan of flash fiction, by the time I get invested in something as a reader-it's over.
Still, it's very, very clever.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection features a lot of very short stories, generally under five pages, that can be read in mere minutes. In this way, the collection almost reminded me of jokes, with a quick set up of the scene and ending with Atwood's insightful, often acerbic, wit. It is a very quick read and great for any fan of her other works.

Also, "Happy Endings" was used as a short story for a book club on 9/12/2017, and it is interesting how a short work like this can lead to a wide-ranging discussion.

Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I mostly enjoyed the stories at the beginning. I skipped the ones that seemed boring and the ones that went over my head. Some of the stories had me like, wtf?!

The stories I liked:

Murder in the Dark
Bad news
Unpopular Girls
Gertrude Talks Back
There was once (My favorite!)

I liked the perspective in which were written too.
Kelly Coles
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite short story book ever. Many of the stories are brilliant twists to classic tales. All of the stories probe your comfort zone and leave you are more complete person.
Jennifer Kepesh
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each of the pieces in this book is only a few pages long. It is genre-defying; herein are included: An experiment with digging into a well-known poem by interspersing its words within a story; meta-fiction, half play, half instruction; whimsy such as one might wish for in a conversation at a dinner table, Atwood perhaps on the second swallow of her second glass of wine, everyone in playful one-upsmanship and appreciative laughter; deadly seriousness about misogyny wrapped in seeming narrative, a ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own

This book didn't get me, even though Atwood is one of my favourite authors. Or may be I am not intelligent enough to understand it!! I did like some of the short stories in it but majority of them just went above my head.

Happy Reading!!
Kerri Anne
For me Margaret Atwood is one of those authors I've been told repeatedly I would like/love/adore/definitely not abhor, but until this collection (of short stories, or perhaps more aptly described in places: prose poems) I hadn't ever read anything of hers. This collection is older (1994), and additionally comprised of pieces originally published in both 1983 and 1992, which is why it feeling so timely in places is perhaps my biggest praise of the book. She didn't write it a month ago, or a year ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories is the first I've read of Margaret Atwood and I'll be reading the Handmaid's Tale shortly since my sister gave it to me for Christmas. This series is interesting. Some of the stories I could make sense of and some of them not so much. I don't think I've read anything that's like this writing style. The word abstract comes to mind as the best way to describe it. She clearly has a unique and brilliant mind that's not always easy to understand. I'm looking forward t ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Margaret Atwood is really hit or miss for me. Some of her books I adore (Oryx and Crake, Alias Grace), some I really didn't like (The Handmaid's Tale, Bluebeard's Egg), some I couldn't even get past the first chapter (The Robber Bride). This turned out to be one of the ones I adore.

Good Bones and Simple Murders is a collection of short fiction, all of it with a feminist bent, from a story of life as a bat to the Little Red Hen to Gertrude telling her own side of the Hamlet story (one I infinitel
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this diverse set of short writing, especially Unpopular Girls, Women's Novels, Stump Hunting, Happy Endings, and In Love with Raymond Chandler. The short pieces nestled into my commute this past week as the perfect way to start and end the work day.

(The rest is about me, so you can stop reading the review here.)

It was ironic to encounter "Women's Novels" because I picked this book up to "re-balance my author stats." I have read a lot, which is to say I have read a lot of books by
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cdn, short
I've been reading this one for some time. This is a collection of short, some VERY short, yet profound works by Atwood. Atwood is a witch, that's the only possible explanation for how she can be so enchanting and thought provoking in so few words (or she's just amazing). Even though the stories are short, I had to re-read them once or twice to get the point and revel in Atwood's subtleties.

I don't think this book would do much for non-Atwoodites (does her fanbase have a name? Is that too hokey f
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Normally, I love Margaret Atwood because she challenges me. I had trouble understanding the point of many of these short stories, usually the ones that felt like prose poems. I dutifully slogged through the book because the play is coming to town and I want to see it. Perhaps the performance will give me greater insight.

These pieces exhibited several of Atwood's themes: we all have messy, human bodies; death is unpleasant and can bring out the worst in us; there is lots of violence against wome
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada
I feel I should like Atwood more than I do. It's undoubtedly clever stuff, but it all leaves me cold - her themes, her style, her non-characters... presumably that's intentional but it doesn't make me like it, or even admire it much. Some of these stories are classic but others seem like someone is just going through the motions.

Any of these stories serve admirably as pure and accessible examples of postmodernism for a high school class, however, and for that I suppose I am grateful. My class w
Sam (Hissing Potatoes)
1.5 stars. Occasional nice imagery and turns of phrase, but to no discernible purpose. Some of the stories dipped into already existing folktales/stories in an attempt to highlight a specific character or uncommon angle, but they were always too short for me to derive any meaning. Most of them felt like writing exercises meant to inspire new ideas or allow the author to practice but weren't strong enough for publication. The two exceptions were Simmering (great satire) and The Victory Burlesk (w ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
All the genius of Margaret Atwood, cooked down to bite-size pieces. It probably deserves 5 stars, but these short bits are not as compelling as her longer narratives. For that, the only thing to blame is the nature of the genre and that I prefer her novels, because for what this is--a genre that I don't know how to define--I can't imagine it getting any better.
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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
“Why do men want to kill the bodies of other men? Women don't want to kill the bodies of other women, by and large. As far as we know.

Here are some traditional reasons: Loot. Territory. Lust for power. Hormones. Adrenaline high. Rage. God. Flag. Honor. Righteous anger. Revenge. Oppression. Slavery. Starvation. Defense of one's life. Love; or, a desire to protect the women and children. From what? From the bodies of other men.

What men are most afraid of is not lions, not snakes, not the dark, not women. Not any more. What men are most afraid of is the body of another man.

Men's bodies are the most dangerous thing on earth.”
“Imagine a famine. Now imagine a piece of bread. Both of these things are real but you happen to be in the same room with only one of them. Put yourself into a different room, that’s what the mind is for.” 16 likes
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