Staff Review/Moral Disorders:Stories

Moral Disorder : Stories by Margaret Atwood. 2006. (Fiction Atwoo.M)
Margaret Atwood has a clever way of moving through the decades in this collection of related stories. The recurring main character, Nell, is a little girl anxious about the impending birth of a sibling in the 30s, a teenager just realizing that she's miles ahead of her boyfriend in intelligence and maturity in the 50s, a slightly rootless young woman in the 90s.
Somehow this all works with Atwood's smooth handling, and as we read of the mostly trivial trials and tribulations that Nell faces, we are by turns amused, aggravated, worried, or saddened. Nell is a bit of a doormat, truth be told, and Atwood imparts this aspect of Nell's personality very nicely, especially in one story, "White Horse," wherein a city friend boards her bargain-basement nag of a horse (named Gladys) on Nell's farm at Nell's expense and inconvenience. Even Gladys is able to take advantage of Nell. Atwood's skill in this collection is much like her deftness with her novels' well developed characters, generous dashes of social commentary, a slightly sardonic tone, and that ability to lend a tinge of dystopia to the world in which her stories take place.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

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