Stone Mattress

Stone Mattress : Nine Tales

3.89 (23,429 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.89 (23,429 ratings by Goodreads)

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A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. 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. A woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire, and a crime committed long ago is revenged in the Arctic via a 1.9 billion-year-old stromatalite.

In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood ventures into the shadowland earlier explored by fabulists and concoctors of dark yarns such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle - and also by herself, in her award-winning novel Alias Grace. In Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous and seriously playful game.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 32mm | 572g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9781408857168
  • 22,918

Review Text

Dark and witty tales from the gleefully inventive Margaret Atwood . Witty verve, imaginative inventiveness and verbal sizzle vivify every page Peter Kemp Sunday Times
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Review quote

Dark and witty tales from the gleefully inventive Margaret Atwood ... Witty verve, imaginative inventiveness and verbal sizzle vivify every page -- Peter Kemp * Sunday Times * Atwood illuminates heavy themes with a lightness of touch, giving insight not only into the nature of stone but the trials and tribulations of flesh and blood -- Anita Sethi * Observer * This collection of short stories is charged with a delightful cheekiness ... Atwood has characters here close to death, dead already, unwittingly doomed or - in one memorable case - freeze-dried; but her own curiosity, enthusiasm and sheer storytelling panache remain alive and kicking. Anyone keen to consign literary fiction to an early grave will have to deal with her first * Independent * What does it mean to be a woman today? Many writers have made this fertile ground their home, but few have been able to lay such enduring claim to it as Margaret Atwood ... Her latest work, Stone Mattress, a collection of nine acerbic, mischievous, gulpable short stories, addresses themes that will resonate with anyone familiar with Atwood's writing ... Atwood's gimlet eye and sharp tongue are turned on the ageing process to painfully accurate effect * Harper's Bazaar * With death tapping at her characters' doors in more ways than one, Atwood shows herself, through these exquisitely inhabited inner lives and darkly funny stories, to be pulsing with more imaginative vivacity than ever * Literary Review * Here it is again, the sharp-clawed, gimlet-eyed, takes-no-prisoners Atwood whose humour is wickedly enjoyable ... But there is beauty in this writing as well as harsh observational gems, and Atwood creates atmosphere with loving care, from the first sentence of the first story * Herald * Atwood's trademark dark humour and withering social commentary are pervasive throughout and the stories are so stealthily plotted that I gasped at one particular denouement despite it having been clearly signposted in the story's title ... Her skill enables the reader to stomach ambiguous endings that in the hands of a less accomplished writer might feel accidental, uncrafted. "Will she or won't she (pull it off)?" wonders the narrator towards the end of one of the tales. With this collection, we are never in any doubt ***** * Sunday Express * Nine darkly funny tales had me truly engrossed ... The characters are sharply observed and the plots imaginative. Atwood deploys words with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Pithy, powerful sentences evoke intense emotion or add more background detail than you'd think possible in so few characters. Hers is the work of a true wordsmith. Atwood's fast-paced tales had me gripped from the off ... Stone Mattress is a delight to read - engaging, entertaining and wickedly witty. If you've yet to dip your toe into the world of short stories, you could do a lot worse than starting with either of these collections. Though for sheer originality, I'd recommend Stone Mattress in a heartbeat * Stylist * After more than 50 books and decades in the literary limelight, Atwood can still surprise with the explosive originality of her ideas; her writing always fresh and alive ... A darkly irresistible read * Lady * Nine Tales, the subtitle of this collection of short stories, references that dreaded implement of torture, the cat o' nine tails, which lacerates the skin with its cotton cords. Metaphorically, that is exactly how Stone Mattress works - each tale, told with Atwood's exquisite economy of style, cuts deep * Vogue * Realism and ridiculousness, play and deadly seriousness, are held in fine balance throughout ... This long view throughout the collection is entirely unsparing, both of the vanished past and the vanishing present, but Atwood's prose is so sharp and sly that the effect is bracing rather than bleak * Guardian * Atwood's take on subjects such as old age, disappointment and revenge are particularly engaging. These stories are often dark, funny and deadly serious ... Atwood is at her best writing about death, a subject that comes and goes throughout these stories * Daily Mail * Typically compelling. Full to brimming with a dust-dry wit and thrilling, punchline sentences, eclectic in its plots but enriched by overarching themes ... With their crackling dialogue and skilful time-tumbles, these "tales" of cruelty and regret at beautifully rendered, funny and alive, unflinching in their portrayals of the ageing process and unexpectedly poignant * Irish Examiner * Rich in sly humour and pulpy thrills * Daily Telegraph *
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About Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.
In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize, and the MaddAddam trilogy: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam. She is the winner of many awards, which, in addition to the Booker, include the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, France's Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Italy's Premio Mondello and, in 2014, the Orion Book Award for Fiction. In 2012 she was awarded the title of Companion of Literature by The Royal Society of Literature. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, Canada. @MargaretAtwood
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Rating details

3.89 out of 5 stars
- 23,429 ratings
5 26% (6,182)
4 44% (10,412)
3 23% (5,323)
2 5% (1,202)
1 1% (310)
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