3 Short Story Collections by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood with laptop on porch
Source: Cat Sparx, Flickr

If you're watching The Handmaid's Tale miniseries or reading The Handmaid's Tale, there's plenty more of Margaret Atwood to enjoy.

Her short stories are wonderful snippets of thought, with the same intelligence, humor and vinegar that permeate her novels. Mostly set in the here and now, but sometimes veering off into fantasy and science fiction, Atwood's short stories take the form to new places. Here's a sampling of short fiction by this 2017 Carl Sandburg Literary Award winner.

Good Bones and Simple Murders is a collection of stories previously published in magazines and journals. Atwood takes on the battle of the sexes with such stories as "Making a Man" and "The Female Body." She lobs some shots at fairy tales in "Unpopular Gals" and "The Little Red Hen Tells All." My personal favorite is "Gertrude Talks Back," in which the title character sits Hamlet down and tells him a thing or two.

Stone Mattress is the most recent addition to Atwood's short story works. Once again, the complicated relationships between men and women as well as Men and Women are subject to analysis and dryly humorous comment. The collection starts with a triptych of tales involving the creator of an imaginary place called Alphinland and her confederates. Also worth noting is the title story, about a woman who gets an unusual chance at revenge (and takes it) on a man who raped her decades ago. These stories are a bit longer than those found in Good Bones and Simple Murders, but still short enough for one sitting each.

The Tent is once again a collection of brief (sometimes quite brief) fiction. "No More Photos" is a meditation on one's past and also on what one chooses to remember, if anything. There are others on age, such as "Encouraging the Young," which could have come off as just acerbic if it were not for Atwood's clear-eyed self-knowledge. Atwood has not jettisoned her feminism, however, and there are more rewritten and skewered fairy tales, and a fun piece about the necessity of insects in "Three Novels I Won't Write Soon."

Margaret Atwood has plenty of other collections of brief fiction. Do you have a favorite title by this prolific author?

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library