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The Tent Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 10, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Biting anger, humor and interest in the fantastic have marked inimitable Atwood works like The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake. In this odd set of terse, mostly prose ripostes, Atwood takes stock of life and career—"this graphomania in a flimsy cave"—and finds both come up short. Staged from behind screens of updated fables and myths ("Salome Was a Dancer" begins "Salome went after the Religious Studies teacher"), the pieces rage icily against the constraints of gender, age (witheringly: "I have decided to encourage the young"), fame and even "Voice": "What people saw was me. What I saw was my voice, ballooning out in front of me like the translucent green membrane of a frog in full trill." Along with a few poems and childlike line drawings, what keeps this collection of 30-odd fictions from being a set of rants is the offhanded intimacy and acerbic self-knowledge with which Atwood delivers them: "The person you have in mind is lost. That's the picture I'm getting." Threaded throughout are dead-on asides on the tyrannies of time and the limits of truth telling in society, so that when Hoggy Groggy hires Foxy Loxy to silence Chicken Little forever, there is no doubt with whom the author's sympathies lie. (Jan. 10)
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–A quirky collection of short tales and a few poems that can be read in any order. Although not all of these selections will appeal to teens, some will, especially Plots for Exotics, in which the narrator, who has always aspired to be a main character, has to apply for a job at the plot factory, where he learns he is not main-character material. Others, such as Our Cat Enters Heaven, will also engage teen readers. The pieces are brief and varied in style. The ironic and often sarcastic tone is one that many teens will appreciate. Simple line drawings appear throughout. As a whole, the book should appeal to anyone who appreciates a wry and somewhat biting look at society.–Judy Braham, George Mason Regional Library, Annandale, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (January 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385516681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385516686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Incredible! This fascinating collection of stories, poems, and shorts is as intriguing as the many different voices Atwood uses to portray the pieces. The Works in this collection span many years of writing and many of the pieces have previously been published elsewhere in such works as: The Walrus, Harper's Magazine, New Beginnings, and a few small independent printings of smaller collections.

What draws the reader in, in this compilation, is that every tale is a story about a life, or lives. They are told in first, second or third person accounts, and some are stories of a person telling their own story to save it from the ravages of the press, or from being lost in time.

There is a powerful collection of pieces on orphans that highlights the collection. Atwood uses wit, witticism, irony and dark humour to open our eyes to the lives of others.

A reader will be drawn in by the power of lives, some calm and serine, and some outrageous, and others downright wicked and evil. But all will grab your attention. Read with great attention and take time after each story to reflect upon the message of that piece before moving on. The temptation will be to race through the book, and if you do so, you will be drawn back to reread it more slowly and savor the offerings.
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Format: Hardcover
When the profound and prolific Margaret Atwood speaks, I listen. Beyond the fact that her superlative fiction has entertained me for years, Atwood writes with an incisive wit and sophistication that is bred of experience. Generational, perhaps, but such sage wisdom and pithy comments on the state of the world and personal imagination are welcome in any context. In a series of deceptively short pieces, Atwood discourses on diverse topics, herself a central figure, with intimate knowledge of this territory: "Encouraging the Young"; "Orphan Stories"; "It's Not Easy Being Half-Divine"; "Chicken Little Goes Too Far", all invitations to an exploration of self and the modern world, the conventions that define our civilization and the fables we embrace.

Past, future, fable, myth- all are pliable in this author's hands, replete with rampant imagery, nothing wasted, each with a twist of insight to pique our complacent intellects, an undercurrent of hope that all is not lost. The title piece, "The Tent", is an allegory of us and them, one man's damnation another man's salvation: "you can't be exact about the truth and you don't want to go out there, out into the wilderness to see for yourself". Chicken Little wears more modern garb as he goes about trumpeting his anxiety that the sky is falling. Indeed it is, but who has time to address his concerns, everyone caught in the busy work of special interests. Besides, "whining is so unattractive". To be taken seriously, he is forced to start his own web site, TSIF- The Sky Is Falling. The world goes backwards in "The Animals Reject Their Names", de-evolving, species to cell, vague memories of God dissolving by the moment: "because God has bitten his own tongue/ and the first bright word of creation/ hovers in the formless void/ unspoken.
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Format: Hardcover
The stories are mostly very short and filled with edgy on the mark ideas. Quick to read and compelling. It's hard to group/encapsulate the variety of stories... so many ideas written darkly, crisply, playfully, clearly...with such a controlled intent-- tempered with the wisdom of life experience. Margaret Atwood just playes with words and ideas so brilliantly. I don't know if everyone will LIKE each and every story but they will come away thinking about them-- so a good discussion is likely.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood. I have read all but one of her prose fiction and I usually finish one of her books looking ahead for another. I prefer her novels although "Wilderness Tips" is one of the best short story collections I've ever read. She surprized me with "Good Bones and Simple Murders" because of the brevity of her stories. "The Tent" falls into the same format of a collection of whimsical sketches. I liken this format to buying one of Picasso's doodle pads; It would have been nice to have the oil painting but there's still something to appreciate in what you got.

Ms. Atwood divides her sketches into three chapters (thus enabling the book to add another half dozen blank pages to the other 10 or so (in a 154 page book!). For what it's worth, my favorites were all in Chapter 2. I enjoyed the pointed satire of "Chicken Little Goes Too Far", I liked the humor of "Three Novels I Won't Write Soon", I liked the subtlety of "Heritage House", I was impressed with "Bring Back Mom: An Invocation" and, finally, I loved the perspective of "Post-Colonial". These were worth buying (and reading) the book.

Margaret Atwood has a very insightful way of looking at people and their relationships. Her novels take you places in those areas that others could not find. I missed that in "The Tent" but I still came away knowing more than when I started.
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Format: Paperback
It seems all that have reviewed this book so far are Atwood fans (which I guess is typical given the fact that one generally reviews things one likes). I'm not sure I would put myself in that camp (This is only the second book by Atwood that I've read), but I do admire her abilities as a writer: her use of language; her oddly apt comparisons; her strong, direct style. Therein, this book does not disappoint. In fact, in some of the earlier pieces I was left admiring Atwood's writing more than what she wrote. And that, in a nutshell, is the fault I find with the collection. It is (as many have already observed) a bit uneven.

"The Tent" is a collection of vignettes divided into three "books" (Book II being the strongest section, as many have already commented). The vignettes discuss a wide range of topics from social injustice to God to the changing roles of motherhood to the craft of writing. I would have liked a bit more cohesion to tie the collection together; they seemed a bit too disparate for my liking. Granted, it IS a collection, and "collection" implies difference, but that's just my preference.

The stories that worked for me: "Life Stories" and "Voice" (two vignettes about the need to write). "Orphan Stories" and "Salome was a Dancer" (two vignettes about the conflicting feelings Society has towards victims). "Take Charge" was interesting by essentially telling the same event but in five different time periods (past, present, future). "Post-Colonial" and "Heritage House" (two vignettes about what is remembered in history and whose history is remembered). "Faster" and "Eating the Birds" (two very short pieces about unchecked avarice and its cost).

A good (not great) collection of literary sketches. Save yourself some money and buy the paperback (instead of the hardcover)
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