Stone Mattress

Margaret Atwood's short story collection may not have changed my views on short stories, but I enjoyed it anyway. | A book review by Newbery and Beyond

I’m usually not a fan of short stories. I love getting to know the characters, twisty plots, and submerging myself in the story, and short stories don’t really allow for that. But I do enjoy Margaret Atwood, so I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did, although I still don’t have a soft spot for short stories!

This collection focuses on the theme of aging–the time when your body fails you and social norms become less important; when old relationships come back to haunt you. From Amazon, here is a quick summary of many of these short stories:

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. (Summary via

This is another of those books that I feel like I’m not quite smart enough or knowledgeable enough to “get,” but fortunately the stories grab the emotions as well as the intellect. Again, I probably won’t be picking up tons of short stories on the basis of this one book, but if you enjoy Margaret Atwood’s work, you’ll probably enjoy this one too.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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