WILDERNESS TIPS by Margaret Atwood
Kirkus Star


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An effective, uniformly controlled collection of ten stories from the author of, most recently, Cat's Eye (1989). Gathered here are pieces previously appearing in top short-story forums--The New Yorker, Grants, Saturday Night, Playboy--providing an excellent sampling of high-proof Atwood. Virtually all the pieces focus on the lives of women equivocally connected to the men around them. In "Wilderness Tips," a middle-aged woman is bluntly confronted with her husband's infidelity. "Hairball," the most disturbing here, involves the dissolution of a woman's affair with a married man; the otherwise naturalistic posture of the story is powerfully undercut by the presence of a removed tumor that the young lady keeps in a jar, eventually sending it, neatly wrapped, to her lover's wife. In "True Trash," a young woman encounters a youth who is still unaware that he had impregnated a camp employee many years earlier. And "Hack Wednesday" revolves around a disgruntled journalist brought, whimsically, to the brink of an affair before she backs off--not from any pangs of conscience but out of lethargic concern for the work involved in carrying it off. Like Alice Munro, Atwood has a talent for serving up the nuances of bourgeois Ontario culture, but with Atwood the ingredients are boiled down into a stronger and much more acerbic brew. The author's trademark smirk behind the economical prose can be wearying over the course of an entire collection, but taken separately, the pieces here are solid evidence of the author in full form. Pure Atwood.
Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 1991
ISBN: 0385491115
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1991


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