While novels are everyone’s favourite story format, there’s something to be said for short stories. How much meaning can you fit into a story that takes 15 minutes to get through? A lot, as it turns out, and in this Margaret Atwood is a master. To celebrate her birthday and her contributions to the literary world, here are three story collections by her that encapsulate the meaning of timelessness.
You can find this story in the collection with the same title. Atwood herself describes the collection as tales inspired by mythical and fantasy stories, rather than contemporary realism, and it contains some spicy reads. Stone Mattress the story however, is my personal favourite. The story features Verna, a woman who’s had multiple previous husbands dead from natural causes, and her desire to take a vacation. She runs into an old schoolmate on the trip, and I’m not telling you what happens next.
Published in 1992, this collection was ahead of its time. Atwood gives voice to the “bad girls” of the classics: the jealous stepmothers, the greedy stepsisters, Gertrude from Hamlet, and others. Ultimately, these stories explore the danger of life (which inevitably ends in death) and the power of telling one’s own story and they’re a compelling read.
Chronicling the pain of the same woman in different periods of her life in an episodic narrative, this collection is about the ironies of fate. It’s poignant and communicative, and shows the troubles of facing an uncertain future that is relevant and relatable given our times.
Happy reading folks, and a very happy birthday to the literary icon herself, Margaret Atwood.
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