I have been waiting a long time to use this word in a review. I really liked this collection and it comes as no surprise considering I am Atwood’s fangirl and have been for a long time.
I feel everyone will find something else to speak to them in these stories. Some people might like the descriptions of the changes in Toronto over decades. Some might find this mood of melancholy particularly moving.
To me it was the summer camps which play an important in two of the stories: True Trash and Death by Landscape. As a child who spent all her summers at various camps by forests and lakes this was something I could somehow relate to. In True Trash all the boys from the camp are fascinated by the waitresses who serve them food, they spy on them when they’re sunbathing and fantasise about the sort of things teenage boys are prone to be fantasising about. It reminded me of one camp I went to many years ago. It was a camp ran by army people and our ‘waiters’ were 19 year old boys in uniforms who were doing their military service (obligatory in Poland back then). Essentially the camp was full of 14 year old city girls and 19 year old tanned farm boys with crew cuts and uniforms. I will leave you with that picture.
The most powerful story in the collection is undoubtedly the rather grisly ‘Hairball’, best emphasising the loss of trust which seems to be the theme of the collection. Although I did enjoy the whole book I felt that in some of the other stories Atwood was pulling her punches.
I also liked her observations on class in the UK:
“She had an advantage over the English women, though: she was of no class. She had no class. She was in a class of her own. She could roll around among the English men, all different kinds of them, secure in the knowledge that she was not being measured against the class yardsticks and accent-detectors they carried around in their back pockets, was not subject to the petty snobberies and resentments that lent such richness to their inner lives.”
Sometimes I feel like that too.