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Good Bones and Simple Murders Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1 edition (November 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385471106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385471107
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This handsome volume combines two of Margaret Atwood's most playful books--Good Bones and Murder in the Dark--resulting in an athletically clever series of tiny fictions, prose poems, and essays that, in small, witty steps, deconstruct everything from sexual politics to the very act of writing itself. Ranging from a tongue-in-cheek appreciation of "Women's Novels" and an embittered, self-sacrificing confessional by Chicken Little to a powerful series of variations on John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields," Good Bones and Simple Murders will surprise casual Atwood fans who are accustomed to the broad intensity of her novels or the seriousness of much of her poetry.

Many of the weaker pieces in this collection now feel dated, but this is hardly Atwood's fault; scores of lesser writers worked the brief essay-fiction to death in the late '90s, but Good Bones and Simple Murders is the real thing. Atwood is blessed with the linguistic gifts necessary to make this kind of writing memorable and a keen intelligence that often gives the stories a devastating relevance. These stories are too quirky to be a useful introduction to Atwood's works, but they are nonetheless likely to delight both fans and dabblers. --Jack Illingworth

From Publishers Weekly

If Atwood keeps a journal, perhaps some of the brief selections in this slender volume-postmodern fairy tales, caustic fables, inspired parodies, witty monologues-come from that source. The 35 entries offer a sometimes whimsical, sometimes sardonic view of the injustices of life and the battles of the sexes. Such updated fairy tales as "The Little Red Hen Tells All" (she's a victim of male chauvinism) and "Making a Man" (the Gingerbread man is the prototype) are seen with a cynical eye and told in pungent vernacular. "Gertrude Talks Back" is a monologue by Hamlet's mother, a randy woman ready for a roll in the hay, who is exasperated with her whiny, censorious teenage son. Several pieces feature women with diabolical intentions-witches, malevolent goddesses, etc. There are science fiction scenarios, anthropomorphic confessionals ("My Life as a Bat") and an indictment of overly aggressive women that out-Weldons Fay Weldon. While each of these entries is clever and sharply honed, readers will enjoy dipping into them selectively; a sustained reading may call up an excess of bile. Atwood has provided striking black-and-white illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Customer Reviews

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The other pieces are just as good.
TKK
"Good Bones" is one of my favourites from way back in junior high school.
Eve Neela Malone
Like The Tent, this book is not a novel or collection of short stories.
Jessica Price

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Megami on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an eclectic collection of short pieces (a little too short and non-narrative to be called short stories) on topics such as Chicken Little, the importance of dumb women in literature, Hamlet from Gertrude's perspectives, war, death, birth and more. There is no doubting, reading this, that Atwood has a feminist bent, but don't let that you scare you off - it is definitely not a ram-down-your-throat version of feminism. Rather, it is a funny, smart and insightful perspective.
I would not recommend this as an introduction to Atwood - a first time reader would probably be better suited to reading one of her novels such as The Blind Assassin or The Handmaid's Tale first. But I think that for readers that have encountered Atwood before, this collection will give you an insight into a fascinating and wryly humourous writer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Every one loves a fairy tale, they shine at us like apples, ripe and flavorfull. Atwood's short poetic prose collected here is like eating a bag of apples. Atwood has selected these apples, she has chosen worms and bruses along with tart crunches. Turning fairy tales on there heads "The melon-burst, the tomato-coloured splatter- now that's a story!". These shorts are not as careful as her poetry, prose allows her this freedom but there are morsels here to chew on, to digest
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eve Neela Malone on January 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Good Bones" is one of my favourites from way back in junior high school. A decade or so later, Atwood's essays and creative tid bits still have resonance for me. Her wit and subversive humour really shine here in this collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Good Bones and Simple Murders / 0-385-47110-6

This compilation of Atwood's shortest stories and musings include the following:
- Murder in the Darl
- Bad News
- Unpopular Girls
- The Little Red Hen Tells All
- Gertrude Talks Back
- There Was Once
- Women's Novels
- The Boys' Own Annual
- Stump Hunting
- Making a Man
- Men at Sea
- Simmering
- Happy Endings
- Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women
- The Victory Burlesk
- She
- The Female Body
- Cold-Blooded
- Liking Men
- In Love with Raymond Chandler
- Simple Murders
- Iconography
- Alien Territory
- My Life as a Bat
- Hardball
- Bread
- Poppies: Three Variations
- Homelanding
- The Page
- An Angel
- Third Handed
- Death Scenes
- We Want It All
- Dance of the Lepers
- Good Bones

These stories are all fairly short, no more than a few pages each, and many are less stories than simply musings on the part of the author. Each one is a little snippet of thought, with a larger story behind it that exists only in the author's mind. For instance, "Gertrude Talks Back", a quick short speech where Hamlet's mother responds to his famous berating speech and confesses proudly that it was she who killed Claudius. Behind the speech lies an unwritten story with a stronger Gertrude, one who takes command of her own destiny rather than simply playing the passive roles of widow, wife, and mother.

The only real drawback to this compilation is that the stories are almost too short, too unpolished. The idea behind each is compelling, but it is disappointing that the idea wasn't able to blossom into a full story, or even a whole novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dana Stabenow on January 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Every story in this book is good. I have to say that up front because now I'm going to tell you that the third story, "Unpopular Gals," is why this book will remain forever enshrined on my bookshelf. In five and a half pages, Atwood tells you why fairy tales live forever, and it ain't because of that wimpy, weak-kneed, put-upon little girl whose rescue always takes center stage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Sassoon on October 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly delightful book, so humurous yet revealing deep contemplation of the challenge of being human and female.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Garbato on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I snagged a used copy of GOOD BONES AND SIMPLE MURDERS on Amazon, whilst shopping around for some of Atwood's older novels. A slim collection of short stories and poetry, GOOD BONES is an eclectic mix, with illustrations by the author peppered throughout. The stories cover a little bit of everything: fantasy, mystery, science fiction, speculative fiction, feminism, rape culture, gender wars, dating, death - you name it.

Many of the pieces are hit and miss; my favorites are the scifi stories that hinge on an environmental or animal-friendly theme:

- "Cold-Blooded" - An alien race of matriarchal moth people visit planet earth - or as they call it, "The Planet of the Moths," a nickname owing to the fact that their moth cousins outnumber us by billions - and find humans sorely lacking in both culture and intelligence;

- "My Life As a Bat" - A series of reflections on the narrator's past life as a bat, including a disturbing (and, as it just so happens, true) anecdote about WWII-era experiments in which bats were made into unwitting suicide bombers;

- "Hardball" - A piece of dystopian speculative fiction in which humans, having decimated their environment, have retreated to live under a giant dome. Since space is limited, the population must be kept in check: for every birth, one person is chosen to die via a lottery. Care to guess what becomes of the remains?

Also enjoyable are those stories which reimagine classic literature: "Gertrude Talks Back" gives voice to Hamlet's long-suffering mother, and "Unpopular Gals" and "Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women" celebrates those villains and "airheads" without which fairy tales would not exist.
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