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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Stone Mattress: Nine Tales Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 16, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 258 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: “Stop trying to pimp me out to all these groupies,” a famous author and infamous cad utters in “Revenant,” one of three cleverly interconnected tales that begin Margaret Atwood’s superbly sardonic Stone Mattress. He is referring to an impending visit from an infatuated graduate student who is supposedly writing a thesis about his sonnets…which aren’t really sonnets (long story). Naveena—her name, he derisively but accurately points out, “sounds like cheese food slices. Or better—like a hair-removal cream”—is insufferable enough to be sure. The depiction makes yours truly nervous to be writing this review, but it’s all part of the fun, and these tales are fun, which is odd considering the sinister current that runs through many of them. But it’s as if the reader is privy to some sort of inside joke. This is especially evident in “The Dead Hand Loves You,” when Atwood playfully skewers the horror genre then gleefully indulges in it, and the ominously tongue-in-cheek “Torching the Dusties.” Fans of Margaret Atwood will certainly delight in this collection. But beware, the Stone Mattress will make groupies of old and new readers alike. –Erin Kodicek

Review

"Witty and frequently biting ... this book’s stories offer characters a chance to put their own understandings of gallantry, courage and revenge to the test, in ways both mundane and extraordinary."
The New York Times Book Review

"In Stone Mattress [Atwood is] having a high old time dancing over the dark swamps of Horror on the wings of satirical wit ... Look at these tales as eight icily refreshing arsenic Popsicles followed by a baked Alaska laced with anthrax, all served with impeccable style and aplomb. Enjoy!"
—Ursula K Le Guin, Financial Times
 
"These exuberantly told tales are a tour de force of wit, style, and discernment."
O Magazine
 
"Eclectic, funny, vibrant, terrifying, beautiful, and utterly delightful."
Boston Globe

"[These] stories have the caustic wit and giddy deviance ... along with the probing interiority and flinty insights of Atwood’s novels."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
"Stylish, acerbic and wickedly funny ... With wit, sympathy and precision, Atwood draws readers into a reflective frame of mind."
Miami Herald

"[This] collection is surprisingly unsettling, gripping and at once laugh-out-loud hilarious. It attains its laudable goal: Myths last over time, and the stories in this book have that very quality. They are timeless, memorable and quite simply fun."
Chicago Tribune

"Stunning ... Atwood brings her biting wit to bear on the battle of the sexes."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
"Shrewdly brilliant, gleefully mischievous, and acerbically hilarious ... Atwood has the raptor's penetrating gaze, speed, and agility and never misses her mark."
Booklist, starred review
 
"Clever tales about writers and lovers ... Atwood is a playful, sharp-edged, and politically alert author."
Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1st edition (September 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385539126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385539128
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (258 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If the rating system allowed, I'd give this one slightly more than 4 and 1/2 stars so I rounded up to 5 stars. I was drawn into most of these tales and I think this work is actually a fine introduction to Atwood's writing, her finely crafted sentences, and often otherworldly (or at least in between reality and surrealism) themes. She is also excellent when, at her best, she creates detailed portraits of individuals. They aren't always ones I'd like to know but are fascinating on the page.

I've had an ambivalent feeling about a fair number of Atwood's books. Some I've liked a great deal. Others left me cold. But I can absolutely recommend "Stone Mattress." It is one I'd be happy to reread.

While I liked - often loved- some of the tales in this book, there were a couple which weren't nearly as compelling as the rest. "Stone Mattress", the centerpiece of the book, focused on a woman bent on revenge and murder for a terrible injustice done her many years ago. Does she succeed? I won't disclose that, won't spoil it for potential readers. But I can say that I never thought I'd feel drawn to a possible murderess and feel compassion and understanding for her intense anger. I do want to add that some of the details in "Stone Mattress" are gruesome - so be aware of that.

If I tried to describe every one of the works here, this review would be overly long so I'll simply mention one other which resonated with me, "Torching the Dusties". It portrays a timely issue, the resentment felt by some younger adults towards the older generation who - in their opinion - "messed it up" for the next generation, killing the planet with greed and blindness to their impact on the environment. The younger adults feel cheated and are outraged, determined to do something about it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Margaret Atwood is one of our most talented and prolific writers. She is the author of more than forty books spanning many genres. Atwood was a poet before she was a novelist, and it shows in this collection through her wonderful descriptive writing. Consider the opening paragraph of the first short story, Alphinland:

"The freezing rain sifts down, handfuls of shining rice thrown by some unseen celebrant. Wherever it hits, it crystallizes into a granulated coating of ice. In the streetlights it looks so beautiful: like fairy silver, thinks Constance."

The first three stories in the trilogy form a trilogy involving people who once knew one another. The first story is about Constance, an aging fantasy writer who is having trouble distinguishing reality from imagination. The second story, Revenant, is about a poet, Gavin, who once loved Constance. The third story, Dark Lady, focuses on a pair of twins, one of whom knew Gavin. These three stories are all connected through their characters, but also their subject matter: they involve older people reflecting on their lives. These stories are also noteworthy for their dark sense of humor.

Standouts in the collection include The Freeze Dried Groom, about an antiques dealer who gets more than he bargained for; Stone Matress, a story of a woman on an Arctic cruise who seeks revenge on someone who wronged her, and Torching the Dusties, about an elderly woman struggling with Charles Bonnet Syndrome while a radical youth group threatens to burn down her retirement home. Charles Bonnet Syndrome is a real disorder, and Atwood does a good job of incorporating it into the story. Some of these stories take jabs at the literary world- Revenant makes fun of obsessive literary fans, and The Dead Hand Loves You satirizes the horror genre. Perhaps Atwood is using this book to reflect on her own career. This is a fine collection, and is recommended to fans of Atwood or short stories in general.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Growing old ain't for sissies", or at least that's what my gramma used to say. Atwood is at her wicked best with these stories. There's not a dud in the group. The first three are an interconnected trilogy from three different perspectives. The protagonists look back on their youth and come to some surprising conclusions. The rest of the stories are independent of one another but they share an ancient outlook. This is Atwood at the top of her twisted game so don't expect the usual themes. Age has its rewards but also plenty of horrors, some strange empowerment and expected dependencies or if not dependencies some very real fears. Along with murder, revenge, and gentile mayhem Atwood includes her signature black humor. It's difficult to sort the fantasy from reality or worse, maybe it's an all too real inevitability. OK there's some love and bonding thrown in as well but that's not as entertaining as the horror. "Torching the Dusties" the last story in the book is some of Atwood's most excellent and excellently chilling work. SHIVER
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In an appendage to her short story collection, Margaret Atwood reveals that these are not stories at all, but tales; in her words, removed "at least slightly from the realm of mundane works and days, as it evokes the world of the folk tale, the wonder tale, and the long-ago teller of tales."

Score point: Atwood. At 74 years old, she creates characters who are mostly aging and feisty, bohemian and free-spirited, increasingly self-aware, and ready to correct and revenge the ills done to them in their callow youth.

Perhaps the most compelling are the first three tales, which function as a trilogy. The first tale sets the stage: young Constance, the renowned writer of a fantastical series of books about the fictional Alpinland, is the lover of a self-important writer of The Dark Lady poems - a legend in his own mind - named Gavin. The two successive tales let us know what happened to Gavin and his subsequent lovers and worshipers: "It's like being drawn into a time tunnel; the centrifugal force is irresistible." The tales are pitch-perfect and mildly satirical, gently skewing writers and our ephemeral lives: "He had a great body," one character says, "While it lasted."

Two other strong favorites for me are The Freeze-Dried Groom: Sam, an aging con-man whose wife has just tossed him out, bids on an auctioned storage space. What he finds there is far more than he bargained for...and perhaps, exactly what he deserves. The eponymous tale, Stone Mattress, focuses on Verna, a three-time widow who meets the man who raped and humiliated her on an Alaskan cruise. She is avenged by a 1.9 billion-year-old stromatolite (the titled stone mattress), in a particularly imaginative revenge fantasy.

In the last tale, Torching the Dusties, Ms.
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