Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bluebeard's Egg

If you need a good dose of laughter start by reading the first short story from this brilliant collection by Margaret Atwood: “Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother”. Every single paragraph made me laugh. Atwood has an intelligent sense of humor. There are many funny situations that involve the narrator’s first boyfriend, Buddy, along with anecdotes about her family.
 “I kept my knees pressed together and my arms around his back. Sooner or later Buddy would attempt to move his hands around to the front, but I knew I was supposed to stop him, so I did. Judging from his reaction, which was resigned but good-natured, this was the correct thing to do, though he would always try again the next week.”

   The stories in this collection are all entertaining and thought-provoking. 
   Many of her characters are exotic and a few of them are somewhat conventional, but all of them manage to make the stories engaging and intriguing.
In “The Sunrise” we meet Yvonne, a bohemian eccentric. She is a professional artist who likes to follow men to request them to pose for her.
 “Once Yvonne gets the men into her studio she is very delicate with them, very tactful. With them in mind she has purchased a second-hand armchair with a footstool to match: solid, comforting, wine velvet, not her usual taste. She sits them in it beside the large window, and turns them so that the light catches on their bones. She brings them a cup of tea or coffee, to put them at ease, and tells them how much she appreciates what they are doing. Her gratitude is real: she’s about to eat their souls, not the whole soul of course, but even a small amount is not to be taken lightly.”

    Yvonne, however, eats nobody's soul, but she is so devoted to her art that men are puzzled and sometimes angry at her. Although her rich imagination gets her in trouble sometimes (due to the fact that she is a woman) she remains committed to her vision.

Warning: In “Uglypuss” there is a cruel act against a cat (Uglypuss). By the end of it, however, Atwood made me feel something that lies on the road between compassion and pity for the bully. I have to confess that I did not like the characters of this specific story, except for the cat (Uglypuss). 
 I think the originality of her writing stems from the complexity of her characters, the social commentary interwoven into them and the unexpected turns. Her writing flows like a breeze, but it is also loaded with wit and irony. It becomes addictive.
  I’ve also noticed that she incorporated metaphors and images into the plots and that she used them as the titles of some of the stories: “The Sunrise”; “The Salt Garden”; “Bluebeard’s Egg”; “The Sin Eater”; “Unearthing Suite”.
  She plays with images to express something meaningful about the characters, and I surmise this has something to do with the fact that she has a flair for painting and drawing.  You can check more of her artworks here.
    All in all, Margaret Atwood makes her interesting characters jump off the page and elicits empathy from the reader in most of these stories. I prefer Margaret Atwood's stories over Munro's ones for this reason.
     If I had to choose two words to describe her writing I would say it is fascinating and mesmerizing. It kindles my imagination and makes my mind soar.