You all probably already know I’m enamored with Margaret Atwood. I think she’s one of the greatest writers of our time. I’ve reviewed Stone Mattress and Negotiating with the Dead on here already. Last year I even had the pleasure of hearing her read from Stone Mattress when she came to State College, PA. (The best part was the hockey video she showed before she came on stage. No, wait, the best part was that she cracked herself up when she was reading her own work–laughing at the same parts I found hilarious.) Anyway, last week at the book sale I found a copy of her book of short pieces, The Tent, so of course I snagged it.
This compilation of shorter fiction, imaginings, and interludes read quickly. I found a few especially compelling pieces–one called “Horatio’s Version,” which cracked me up, and also has become a part of the collection of pieces I will use when I teach Hamlet. At one point, Horatio writes “I have to say that I did my best as second banana during the Elsinore affair.” Silly, yes, but the rest rings true of Horatio’s character. There are many lovely little pieces in this collection with Atwood’s signature sense of humor and edgy prose. There are little nuggets like this one that you’ll want to write down to remember: “Fear is synonymous with the future, and the future consists of forked roads.”
So if you’re interested in reading some of Atwood’s shorter pieces, this is a nice place to start–each selection ranges anywhere from one page to five pages, and it is easy to pick up and put down if you don’t have a large chunk of time. However, these little pieces are guaranteed to stay with you for a while.