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Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales Paperback – June 23, 2015
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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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Eclectic, funny, vibrant, terrifying, beautiful, and utterly delightful.” —The Boston Globe
“A tour de force of wit, style, and discernment.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Astonishing. . . . Powerful. . . . I loved these strange, sharp and wild stories.” —Meg Wolitzer, NPR
“Pure, simple and stunning. . . . Endearing, subtle, quite brilliant.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Powerful. . . . Witty and frequently biting, Stone Mattress is keen to the ways in which we choose, all our lives, to love and to hurt—and in Atwood’s world these two actions are always choices, creating consequences for which we will one day be held to account.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[These] stories have the caustic wit and giddy deviance . . . along with the probing interiority and flinty insights of Atwood’s novels.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Danc[es] 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
“Stylish, acerbic and wickedly funny. . . . With wit, sympathy and precision, Atwood draws readers into a reflective frame of mind.” —The Miami Herald
“The 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
“Absorbing. . . . Impressive. . . . Stone mattresses make for restless sleep, but in this elegant collection, everyone expresses that restlessness differently.” —The A.V. Club
“Powerful. . . . Extraordinary. . . . Realism and ridiculousness, play and deadly seriousness, are held in fine balance throughout.” —The Guardian (London)
“Wise and witty. . . . Atwood writes essentially intellectual fiction, spryly coiled around solid themes, yet borrowing the amusements of pulp genres, from science fiction to horror.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Compelling. . . . Astonishing. . . . Atwood illuminates heavy themes with a lightness of touch, giving insight not only into the nature of stone but the trials and tribulations of flesh and blood.” —The Observer (London)
“A collection rich in sly humour and pulpy thrills.” —The Telegraph (London)
“This collection of short stories is charged with a delightful cheekiness, as well as a full awareness of the subjectivity of notions of justice and value. . . . Witty, weird, chirpily irreverent, somewhat hard-hearted, and hugely insightful.” —The Independent (London)
“[Atwood’s] ability to surprise and her sparkling language are on full display. . . . Stone Mattress not only showcases its author’s talents at their most refined, it also affords a glimpse behind the curtain to the woman working the megaphone.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Wickedly funny, mordantly observed ruminations on how the sexes interact. . . . With Stone Mattress, Atwood brilliantly returns to her literary roots as a deliciously funny observer of the human comedy.” —The Toronto Star
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I think what I like best about these tales (and I've been reading Margaret Atwood since 'Edible Woman' was released in 1969 when I first moved to Toronto and vowed to 'learn about' Canadian literature) is that they straddle comfortably the unnecessary lines between imagination, fiction, and pure craziness.
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Big mistake.Read more