Margaret Atwood turns to short fiction for the first time since her 2006 collection, Moral Disorder, with nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships bringing to mind her award-winning 1996 novel, Alias Grace. 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. In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous and seriously playful game.
Sophie Baker manages the translation rights for Stone Mattress
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Witty verve, imaginative inventiveness and verbal sizzle vivify every page.
The Sunday Times Full Review
Witty and frequently biting, “Stone Mattress” is keen to the ways in which we choose, all our lives, to love and to hurt — and in Atwood’s world these two actions are always choices, creating consequences for which we will one day be held to account. Matt Bell
The New York Times Book Review Full Review
Publishers Weekly Starred Review Full Review
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.The Guardian (Review)
Atwood dances wickedly through these [characters'] lives, skewering pomposity and flashing up lack of self-awareness with a glorious relish.Lesley McDowell
Independent on Sunday
The endlessly inventive Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous but seriously playful game in this collection of nine short stories exploring themes of loss, love and life.The Mail on Sunday