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  • Wilderness Tips
  • Margaret Atwood
  • ISBN: 9780385491112
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Pub Date: 03/1998
  • Pages: 240
  • Format: Paperback
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Rachel ’s Rating    

This collection of short fiction features a cast of all-women protagonists who are shaped by different transformative experiences. The situations run the gamut from amusing to tragic. I jokingly tell people that this is a book of scary stories, but it's really just a half-joke. I found the best pieces in the collection not merely disquieting--they are flat-out eerie. All of them weighed on me for days or more. Margaret Atwood knows how to get into a character's head and construct her world, internal and external--and how to put you there as well. She seems to luxuriate in these haunting stories, using characters' personal histories and resulting psychological changes to draw them out into full portraits that tend toward the ominous and the sublime. Atwood's skillful use of free indirect discourse does a marvelous job of subtly shifting perspective in each story.

The title piece is the most masterful. "Hairball" is the most memorable (and the most heroic.) "Death by Landscape" is the most petrifying. "The Age of Lead" is the most agonizing.

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