Friday, January 2, 2015

Beginning ~ with rain like fairy silver

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales ~ by Margaret Atwood, 2014, fiction (short stories)
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.  Under the streetlights it looks so beautiful:  like fairy silver, thinks Constance.  But then, she would think that; she's far too prone to enchantment.
Nope, that doesn't grab me, the beginning of the first story.  I flipped through the whole book, reading the opening lines of each of the "nine tales."  The one I like best is the story that became the book's title:  "Stone Mattress":
At the outset Verna had not intended to kill anyone.
Oh, yeah!  This sounds good.  This one makes me want to read the whole book, so I'll hold off until I read it in its place, which happens to be the eighth story of nine.  I hope the other stories are worth it.  Here's a summary of the book:
Margaret Atwood turns to short fiction for the first time since her 2006 collection, Moral Disorder, with nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships.  A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband in "Alphinland," the first of three loosely linked stories about the romantic geometries of a group of writers and artists.  In "The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom," a man who bids on an auctioned storage space has a surprise.  In "Lusus Naturae," a woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire.  In "Torching the Dusties," an elderly lady with Charles Bonnet syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence.  And in "Stone Mattress," a long-ago crime is avenged in the Arctic via a 1.9 billion-year-old stromatolite.  In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous and seriously playful game.
In case you wonder why I'm reading it without having read the blurb I just shared, it's because my friend Donna enjoyed the book.  She handed it to me, so I'm ready to take her word and start reading.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.


SherryGLoag said...

Some lovely descriptive writing, but not enough to persuade me to pick up the book, but thanks for sharing.

Katherine P said...

I have to agree with you about the first excerpt. A little too long or rambly for me. I do like the opening of Stone Mattresses though. Thanks for sharing! I hope you enjoy it! Atwood is one I always intend to read but somehow have never gotten too.

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Beautiful writing. I enjoy reading short stories sometimes but would usually rather read a thick, juicy novel!
My Friday post features THE HUSBAND LIST.

Elizabeth said...

Very beautiful, descriptive writing, but I never can get into Ms. Atwood's books. :)


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Nyze Gremio-Velasco said...

Though it's not the usual genre I/m reading, this is amazing :)