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I love Margaret Atwood Her witticism is so incongruous that it seems innate Good Bones and Simple Murders is a compilation of harrowing, liberating and reincarnating tales It debunks what had been firmly holding grounds for years It is anecdotal at its best.I picked up this book to read Gertrude Talks Back , but one thing led to another and now, I am mesmerised by it It is sharp It is witty It is cleverly and poignantly written Atwood s illustration is as vibrant and provocative as her writing She is so subtle that a few read, MOST OF THEM tales need to be re read to even catch hold of what s going on Now I know that the vampires don t like sucking blood from the neck because they dislike hair, that witches are the story and they can t be separated from it, that it wasn t Claudius, but Gertrude who was directly responsible for the demise of King Hamlet Unpopular Gals , Happy Endings , My Life as a Bat and We Want It All are my favorite tales in this collection.Favourite quote You wonder why I stabbed the blue eyes of my dolls with pins and pulled their hair out until they were bald Life isn t fair Why should I be Unpopular Gals In This Collection Of Short Works That Defy Easy Categorization, Margaret Atwood Displays, In Condensed And Crystallized Form, The Trademark Wit And Viruosity Of Her Best Selling Novels, Brilliant Stories, And Insightful Poetry Among The Jewels Gathered Here Are Gertrude Offering Hamlet A Piece Of Her Mind, The Real Truth About The Little Red Hen, A Reincarnated Bat Explaining How Bram Stoker Got Dracula All Wrong, And The Five Methods Of Making A Man Such As The Traditional Method Take Some Dust Off The Ground Form Breathe Into The Nostrils The Breath Of Life Simple, But Effective There Are Parables, Monologues, Prose Poems, Condensed Science Fiction, Reconfigured Fairy Tales, And Other Miniature Masterpieces Punctuated With Charming Illustrations By The Author A Must For Her Fans, And A Wonderful Gift For All Who Savor The Art Of Exquisite Prose, Good Bones And Simple Murders Marks The First Time These Writings Have Been Available In A Trade Edition In The United States Atwood Proves She Is An Accomplished MiniaturistShe Can Pack Wallop Into Less Space Than Any Other Writer In Her Weight Class Toronto Globe And Mail I ve always been a huge fan of Margaret Atwood, but I m not always a fan of short stories when I do read them I prefer to read them one at a time maybe in a magazine.But I just jumped into this one and at first I couldn t put it down All my favourite stories in this collection were at the start The were sharp witty clever But it is the same strong yet enigmatic voice right through, so I did have to keep putting this collection down So while I loved Murder in the Dark Gertrude talks back, I didn t love every story In fact, by the end I was a little bored.But I still enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with my favourite Canadian author My next book of hers will be a novel. A great collection of short stories that felt much experimental in style and approach than most others I ve read Reading most of this felt like the equivalent of listening to a great band as they practice in a garage before going to a studio to record a finished, polished product Coming from an author I love that was an incredibly neat experience There were one or two stories that fell flat for me but there were also stories like Gertrude Talks Back that I absolutely loved. I read the first story of this book, Murder in the Dark, and when I was finished I turned to my husband, shoved the book in his hand, told him to read it and then he was to tell me HOW DID SHE DO THAT He didn t really have an answer but his comment defined what I thought of the rest of the book It s written with the confidence of someone who knows she can hit a homerun every time Confidence oozes through every one of these pieces Least faves because they just seemed a little too forced and I wish I had a better word for that sensation, but that s the best I ve got Gertrude Talks Back Queen Gertrude gives Hamlet her opinion on her current and former husbands Fine But the tone somehow seemed dismissive and the character of Gertrude never seemed dismissive in the play which is doubly odd considering the information she is giving her priggish son And, this may seem an odd critique, but I think the white space between the paragraphs doesn t do the story any favors It gives it a fragmented feeling and I think that a piece riffing on Shakespeare would work better within the play framework perhaps shaping the monologue in a block form like Hamlet s own speeches would have allowed the words to have impact instead of making the reader adjust both the form and the words Poppies Three Variations While this is probably the most complex exercise, it reads just like that an exercise She riffs on a verse about poppies by John McCrae by using the same words of that verse, in the same order, to tell three different stories The first words of McCrae s verse is in Flanders and all three mini stories have with in followed somewhere by Flanders followed somewhere by the next word in the verse It s a good way to stretch the literary muscle, but it s like watching someone work out we admire their physique but prefer not to see the huffing and puffing and sweat that go along with it Just give me the calendar, ya know The stories that I absolutely adore are the ones that have a satirical bite to them Simmering Oh My FAVORITE by far I know, it s unfair to choose favorites, but there you have it, anyway It s all about what happens when men take over the kitchen Go get this book and read that story Murder in the Dark It set the tone for the rest of the book Is the author just trying to manipulate the reader throughout I m totally okay with the way Atwood manipulates, by the way , is she just a magician showing nothing of reality Puts the power with the writerso I think my writerly friends will enjoy this a lotas well as readers who like to figure out the trick I still haven t Happy Endings A choose your own adventure marriage Atwood also illustrated the collection, and some are as provocative as the stories which are also dominated by the bits and pieces of male and female anatomy Interwoven among the stories is the question of objectifying the body Making a Man, Alien Territory, Dance of the Lepers, and Good Bones hit on the question in a direct waybut it s everywhere Well worth reading and it won t take that long either JennyPlace for the StolenUnderground Writing Project 23 Things that yours truly learned from reading Good Bones And Simple Moiduh 1 In the game of mystery, the murderer is the writer The detective is the reader And the victim is the book.2 But sometimes, the murderer is still the writer The detective is the critic The victim is the reader.3 Your depression, my friend, is the revenge of oranges.4 It wasn t Claudius who killed the King of Denmark Twas Gertrude 5 Repression breeds sublimation.6 When you re having sex with Raymond Chandler caressing the furnitures is considered foreplay.7 Stupid women who will fall for a stupid trick that can t fool a gerbil give us Literature.8 Vampire bats won t suck blood from your neck because bats hate hair and neck is too close to your hair.9 The Angel of Suicide is faceless, like a grey egg.10 The Earth is an eighteenth century ship with stowaways but without destination.11 Men are made out of dusts Women, out of ribs.12 A man is chained to unpredictability therefore he s prone to sadness.13 Say Pass the sugar and hear the guns.14 We never know the line between Love and Greed.15 The color red is compelling to a nation of metamorphs.16 If stock market exists, so does previous lives.17 Male brains are objective That s why they think they re orphans, cast adrift.18 Men s novels are about getting power Women s novels are about getting menso they can get power.19 You can t get the witch out of the story because SHE IS the story.20 The phrase a glimpse of pink through the gloom only has one meaning.21 Everything you ve ever wanted I want it also.22 No Devil, no Fall, no Redemption That s grade two arithmetic.23 No news is good news and everyone knows that.When I first got this book, I noticed that the stories were short so I thought flash fiction.And when I think of flash fiction, I think of O.Henry.and The Flash.This book also made me think of Monday or Tuesday Eight Stories by Virginia Woolf I read that a couple of months ago and that one was done entirely in stream of consciousness I didn t like it one bit I hated it.With Good Bones, Atwood didn t sit down and write conventional fiction Most of the pieces presented in this collection were her random thoughts, half finished first drafts, snatches of her imagination Sometimes the sentences can be stream of consciousness like but I still love them Can t imagine people would want to read this unless he she is a fan of Atwood.BTW, most of those 23 items I listed above were sentences that Atwood wrote. Although this book of short stories is brief, it is very dense and is not a quick read In fact, most if not all of the stories beg for a re read in order to catch Atwood s subtleties As a whole, the pieces have a strong feminist theme threaded throughout, with a gifted writer s sense of humor in the crafting of the written word Economically sound and imaginative, there s a story in here for everyone, although everyone may not like all of the stories There were quite a few individual stories that I absolutely fell in love with, like Happy Endings , Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women , In Love With Raymond Chandler , Simple Murders , and the two listed below Unpopular Gals was the first that I adored in that she interprets the female villain characters, archetypal icons in various pieces of literature, using first person point of view to tell their opinions of how they have been characterized In one, the archetypal evil stepmother pronounces, The thing about those good daughters is, they re so good Obedient and passive Sniveling, I might add No get up and go What would become of them if it weren t for me Nothing, that s what I stir things up, I get things moving You can wipe your feet on me, twist my motives around all you like, you can dump millstones on my head and drown me in the river, but you can t get me out of the story I m the plot, babe, and don t ever forget it 11 The other that I really liked was Gertrude Talks Back where Atwood gives Hamlet s mother a voice, using a mixture of first and second person point of view, re imagining a powerful and decisive Queen of Denmark who is frustrated with her unaffectionate husband and chooses to rectify the situation herself In her one sided dialogue we only imagine the lines that Hamlet is saying, from Gertrude s responses she states, Oh You think what You think Claudius murdered your Dad Well, no wonder you ve been so rude to him at the dinner table If I d known that, I could have put you straight in no time flat It wasn t Claudius, darling It was me These two stories remind me of her Penelopiad, where she tells Penelope s side of the events which occurred after Odysseus left Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War, while she was left alone for the 10 years of the war s duration and the 10 additional years it took her husband to return The other stories are interesting, extremely well crafted and delightfully experimental.One, Poppies three Variations is a collection of three short stories which use the words of John McCrae s In Flanders Fields poem in order, surrounded by other words of course to tell three distinct tales It s hard to describe, but very cool.Favorite Memorable Quotes stupid women are not so stupid as they pretend they pretend for love Men love them because they make even stupid men feel smart women for the same reason, and because they are reminded of all the stupid things they have done themselves, but mostly because without them there would be no stories Let us now praise stupid women, who have given us Literature An affair with Raymond Chandler, what a joy Not because of the mangled bodies and the marinated cops and hints of eccentric sex, but because of his interest in furniture Only after we had sniffed, fingered, rubbed, rolled on, and absorbed the furniture of the room would we fall into each other s arms, and onto the bed king size peach colored creaky narrow four postered pioneer quilted lime green chenille covered , ready at last to do the same things to each other Whether he s making her like it or making her dislike it or making her pretend to like it is important, but it s not the most important thing The most important thing is making her Over, from nothing, new From scratch, the way he wants What men are most afraid of is not lions, not snakes, not the dark, not women Not any What men are most afraid of is the body of another man Men s bodies are the most dangerous thing on earth In the gap between desire and enactment, noun and verb, intention and infliction, want, and have, compassion begins. This was dark, twisted, and magnificent It gently caressed the darkest parts of me Yet, in this strange place there was great humor and wit I appreciate the chance to laughingly embrace the unacceptable. I re read these short stories, many of which would now be called flash fiction, and although they are not my favorite of her work, I did appreciate the frequent sarcasm and at times humorous commentary from the feminist perspective A quick read. The synopsis of this book isn t wrong when it says that these stories are hard to categorize I mean, what even are these things I guess I d call them flash fiction or prose poetry Each story poem essay dialogue thing is only a few pages long They cover a variety of genres, from realism to magical realism to fairytales to sci fi Most of them have a strong feminist slant Some are abstract some are straightforward Some are accompanied by Margaret Atwood s weird artwork They re all beautifully written I guess there s a thing for everyone in here.Here are my favorites In Murder in the Dark, the narrator or author explains how she is going to manipulate the reader in this book The reader shouldn t believe anything she says This is an attention grabbing way to start the collection It sets the dark, weird tone Just remember this, when the scream at last has ended and you ve turned on the lights by the rules of the game, I must always lie Good Bones and Simple Murders There Once Was is a dialogue between two anonymous characters who are trying to rewrite a fairytale in a politically correct way They get nowhere with their story and eventually give up It s funny There once was a girl, as average looking as she was well adjusted, who lived with her stepmother, who was not a very open and loving person because she herself had been abused in childhood Good Bones and Simple Murders Stump Hunting tells you what to do if you catch a tree stump while fishing and decide to eat it It s very useful information I guess If you like eating stumps.Another story that gives useful information is Making A Man It tells you the five different ways to make a man, including out of gingerbread or as folk art Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women is an ode to all the stupid female characters in stories As always, Atwood s social commentary is on point The best known stories in Western culture do contain a lot of women who make terrible choices Let us now praise stupid women, who have given us Literature Good Bones and Simple Murders Simmering shows what the world would be like if every man suddenly became very interested in cooking Knives are status symbols and there are special handshakes involved This is a funny piece of social satire It s also my favorite story in the collection.Do you like choose your own adventure stories I do With Happy Endings, you can choose to give the couple a happily ever after Or not In Cold Blooded, moth like aliens come to Earth and are baffled by humans The aliens think moths are clearly the superior species Sometimes, I agree with them.Finally, there s Poppies Three Variations This is like a writing exercise you d do in school, but when Atwood does something, it s not an exercise It s art This story takes the words from the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae and uses them to create three distinct flash fiction stories It s hard to describe, but it works brilliantly Most writers probably wouldn t be talented enough to pull it off.This collection reminded me why I fell in love with Margaret Atwood s writing as a teen It s quirky, hilarious, and points out the absurdities in the world.My only complaint is that some of the stories poems things are too abstract for my tastes I don t like abstract writing because I m never sure what I m supposed to get out of it If I m going to read something, I want than just pretty language I want a plot, characters, or a clear subject Luckily for me, most of the things in this book aren t too abstract This is one of the best collections I ve read this year.If you re a Margaret Atwood fan, then you need to read Good Bones and Simple Murders. This book should also be required reading for all wannabe writers Atwood is one of those authors who always know how to choose the perfect word She can say a lot in very little space The things in this book are tight, clever little pieces of something.