Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Tent

What was I thinking?  Recently, I decided that with collections of short stories, I would write at least a few sentences about each story.  Margaret Atwood’s The Tent is short, but so is each "short fiction".  The Tent was great, but I will definitely need to re-read it at some point.  I think by stopping to write a sentence or two about each piece, I may have lost part of the feeling of the collection as a whole.  Also, I have no idea what some of my own notes mean right now, but I’m still including them.  They were important enough for me to write down at the time.

Life Stories

Can be interpreted two ways, I think.  Either the narrator is hiding from her life or she is letting go of the past.  I do get the impression that she is disgusted (is that too strong a word?) with her life though.  Maybe it's others life's she's disgusted with.

Clothing Dreams

Super short, like flash fiction.  Another narrator lost in the past, lost in a life that doesn't belong to them.  If these aren't your clothes, then this isn't or shouldn't be your life.


Is the narrator trapped in the bottle?  This dialogue also seems to deal with identity.  I liked the surprising god/in my head/nothing angle the story took.

Impenetrable Forest

A character who is lost, doesn’t know what path to take.  Even an “angel” (who doesn’t look so angelic up close) can’t help when you don’t know what you want.  Also, I really like the drawing.

Encouraging the Young

Is this an old person’s rant?


With her death so recent, this piece reminds me of Whitney Houston.  This person is inexorably tied to their talent.

No More Photos

Weird.  Caught between a poem and a rant.

Orphan Stories

Orphan Stories is depressing.  It takes orphan stereotypes and turns them on their head (whatever that means).   It’s like looking at the stereotypes and seeing the truth through sarcasm.


Gateway is interesting.  It is told in the second person.  I’m not sure I like that.  It makes the story seem as though the main character (or you) are being told about your life.  Unless that’s the point, to create that sort of connection with the reader.  The narrative is asking you, I think, where are you going and do you know where you have been.

Bottle II

Does the person who takes the cork out of the bottle of sand deserve the voice who tells them all they need to know?  I want to know more about this voice.

Winter’s Tales

Do the old tell the young stories to scare them?

It’s Not Easy Being Half-Divine

This piece has felt most like a short story so far.  It has a beginning, middle and end.  The note the narrator uses puts Helen’s story in a certain light, whereas, if it were told with a more favourable tone, it would sound more caring or positive.

Salome Was a Dancer

Another story where the tone of the narrator affects your feelings toward the main character.

Plots for Exotics

Is this a commentary on the white-washing of main characters (if it’s set in the West)?  What do exotics have to do to be the main character?  Can an exotic be a main character if the book is set in (for example) Utah or Nova Scotia?

This also gets me thinking about some of the books I’ve read lately.  Would they be as popular if the main character wasn’t white?  …Atwood makes me think too much…

Resources of the Ikarians

What do a people do when they have no resources and are also not very nice?  Atwood again has created a narrator that negates any sympathy you might build up reading the story, yet still makes the story engaging.

Our Cat Enters Heaven

This is an odd, funny story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I think it might be a favourite among the bunch.  There are nice twists along the way.

Chicken Little Goes Too Far

The sky is falling isn’t just a conspiracy theory; it’s either ignored or covered up!  Poor Chicken Little never had a chance.  Chicken Little Goes Too Far is a great take on an old story.  Another favourite.

Thylacine Ragout

Really weird.  I don’t know what Atwood was thinking.  A social commentary on capitalism, searching in the past and science.

The Animals Reject Their Names and Things Return to Their Origins

There is no light.  This is an amazing poem/story (a poem that tells a story.)

Three Novels I Won’t Write Soon

But she doesn’t say never.  I want to know what happens to Chris and Amanda.

Take Charge

Take Charge is like an absurd comedy.  I can imagine two people having these conversations on stage and the audience laughing their butts off.


Seems like a short essay on what the colonials did to the natives.  I don't know if I understood what she was trying to say.

Heritage House

Does Heritage House combine forgetting the past with a commentary on a lack of government funding for the arts?

Bring Back Mom:  An Invocation

A feminist poem aimed at the right wing, I think.  It takes the image of the perfect Mom (from the 50s perhaps) and peels back the layers.  It reveals what was happening to women behind the mother mask.

Horatio's Version

An interesting take on Horatio's personality.  Mostly I think it's a rant against the war and violence in our world - an interesting well-formed rant.

King Log In Exile

A unique story.  Enjoyable, but I don’t know what to say about it.


A commentary on our increasing need for new, better, faster technology.  The new gadgets get consumed, but what do they really do for us?  (Of course, I'm using my iPad to write some of this...)

Eating the Birds

A commentary on consumption?  Another weird one.

Something Has Happened

Like an introduction to a crazy dystopian novel (or longer short story).


So far, most like a short story.  It is beautifully written and I like the drawing.  It's so sad.  It sums up what could be a whole novel.  The emotional tone reminds me of A Thousand Splendid Suns.


Seems most out-of-place.  It's Atwood's tone and style, but warriors and warlords aren't usually her style.

The Tent

The Tent is desperation.  The title story is filled with need, urgency and fear.  The writer is trying to be a protector of knowledge, but the predators are coming to destroy it.  It is an allegory. The Tent is filled with so much; I'll have to re-read it.

Time Folds

Time Folds has an almost sweet, romantic tone.  It was nice after the previous story's tension

Tree Baby

Tree Baby is more like a poem.  It's about hope.  It left me with a good feeling and a smile.

But It Could Be Still

Is this about faith?  Faith in a happily-ever-after.  I like to believe in happily-ever-after, but I'm a prepare-for-the-worse person most of the time.  Is it about the reader?  Is it the hope a reader gets from a story?  I don't know.  I'm confused.  The tulip bulbs aren't part of the story and neither are you (to paraphrase).  Is it about being on the outside looking in?  I felt hope until the last three sentences.

In conclusion...

This was a great little collection.  Potentially, it could be read in one sitting.  I was feeling like I needed more Atwood and The Tent was it.  It left me wanting to read another one of her books.

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