Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Stone Mattress by Margaret AtwoodStone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on 9/16/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
Buy from IndieBound


Leave it to Margaret Atwood to take two things I’m quite ambivalent about—short stories and elements of fantasy—and make me fall in love. Though I went into Stone Mattress hesitant, by the collection’s third story I felt a strong connection to the thread linking “Alphinland”, “Revenant” and “Dark Lady”, along with the irresistible pull of Atwood’s prose.

I often find myself struggling with anything that strays too far off the beaten path, but Stone Mattress finds a perfect balance between its solid footing in reality and a sly, twisted nod to mythical elements. Atwood herself describes the story collection as 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.” That slight shift takes many forms, like the mind of a science fiction writer or a murderous wife, but consistently serves as a link between the collection’s stories rather than a distraction.

“There’s only so long you can feel sorry for a person before you come to feel that their affliction is an act of malice committed by them against you.”

The tales are also linked by the looming presence of age, which pushes some characters close to death and simply reminds others of their mortality. But many can’t face the future without a last look at their past. In the darkest of her stories, Atwood ‘s characters use the advantage of age to seek revenge for life’s injustices, often with pointed commentary.

Now part of an absolutely dizzying body of work, Stone Mattress is a testament to Margaret Atwood’s ability to continuously thrill and surprise readers while holding fast to the style and substance we love.

  • Stone Mattress sounds like a must own. Margaret Atwood is really growing on me, I feel I must read everything she writes. Great review

    • I definitely feel the same. She’s easily one of my favorite authors and I’m quick to jump on everything she writes.

  • Wesley

    *opens Goodreads, adds ANOTHER book to the TBR that was recommended by Shannon, has no regrets because Ms Atwood is basically the best*

  • As the Crowe Flies

    I’ve had this one on my bedside table for weeks. Atwood is pretty hit or miss with me, though there’s no denying her cultural impact or importance. The fact that these are short stories actually makes me more interested in picking this one up.

  • So glad you liked it! I usually feel the same way as you about Short stories and fantasy, but I loved this book anyway! Proof of her superpowers!

  • Ti Reed

    Well, I passed this one up. I don’t know… short stories…they aren’t my thing typically but yours is the third review I have read today and now I think I should probably read it.

  • And how did I not realize that this was out! Though short stories are sadly not my thing (I actually DO like them, I just rarely pick them up). I wonder if this is available on audio?

  • Oooh, I love sly, twisted nods AND fantasy elements! I haven’t read much of Atwood’s work in the way of short stories, so I need to get on this.

  • I have a hard time with short stories too, but it sounds like these stories are quite enjoyable. Have you read any of her other short story collections?

  • Amber

    That quote! I can’t wait to get this one, it should be here Friday! I’ve never read any of her work and feel like short stories are a good start.

    • I think this would actually be a great place to start with her, but you have to promise to read Handmaid’s Tale if you like it!

  • Kim Ukura

    Great review, you nailed so much of what this collection is about. I wish I had thought to mention the aging theme in the stories — so great.

  • Words for Worms

    I heard one of the stories ties into The Robber Bride! I was hesitant to pick it up because short stories, but Atwood, man. She knows how to reel me in!

    • I haven’t read that one, but I know several people mentioned it! She definitely knows how to hook me, too :)

  • It’s so impressive that the author got you to like story elements that don’t usually work for you! I didn’t request an ARC of this one because I thought The Handmaid’s Tale was only ok and figured there were die hard fans who’d be wanting it more than I did, but I’ve been reading such good reviews, I think I need to give it a try :)

    • She really shows off such a great variety of her talents, so even if you didn’t love The Handmaid’s Tale, I think you might be able to find a different corner of her writing that appeals to you in it.

  • Can’t wait to read this…but am a huge Atwood fan so probably no surprise there. Sounds really good.

  • I think I need to take a break from Liar, Temptress, Soldier, to read this IMMEDIATELY.

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