The news from Gilead might be bleak, but the author of The Handmaid’s Tale and other modern day classics is pushing again with her trademark wit and invention. Future March, Doubleday is publishing Margaret Atwood’s luminous Previous Babes in the Woods, her to start with assortment because 2014’s celebrated Stone Mattress, 15 tales that showcase a master at the peak of her ability. In an distinctive, Oprah Daily reveals the book’s chic, cheeky protect, suggesting mischief’s afoot in the author’s creativity.
Atwood’s received a whole lot on her intellect: the Covid pandemic, mortality, literature…and cats. The structure functions 50 % of a feline face with a Partridge Family–style chicken as its eye, a nod to her Cat’s Eye the lettering echoes the fonts of The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel, The Testaments. The selection is a type of bestiary for the 21st century: Here you are going to obtain aged ladies ruminating on their life, but also other, unexpected narrators, amongst them an alien octopus and a snail reincarnated as a bank manager. “Old Babes in the Wood is a mixed bag, like life. It has poor flavor, also like existence,” Atwood observes. “Is a tale about a lady who is a snail at coronary heart truly about getting fairly old? Perhaps. Are useless beloveds actually useless in any genuine perception of the term? Maybe not. Are cats what they appear? Hardly ever. I like the cover—simple but ambiguous, and it crosses lines. Is the prey in the eye of the predator? But of program.”
A George Saunders-like reimagining of a European folks tale an job interview in between “Margaret Atwood” and George Orwell, executed as a result of a séance a Tennyson-esque lament for a lifeless pet—these are amongst the book’s official innovations. Atwood glides across registers like a prima ballerina, from the surreal and comedian to the historical and elegiac. There’s also a poignant collection of stories that serves as bookends, limning the many years-prolonged marriage in between Tig and Nell, the rupture of widowhood and the ebb and circulation of grief, punctuated by perfectly placed rhetorical thoughts. “What was the history?” Nell muses. “No a single remaining to request. But what enterprise is it of hers, in any case? None, apart from that she’s inherited it, like the silver teapot, the sugar sifter, the fish knives. Objects shift from hand to hand, matters get neglected about, their meanings evaporate.”
“Old Babes in the Wood is an unforgettable collection and—as always with Atwood—containing multitudes,” suggests Lee Boudreaux, Atwood’s editor. “From the magisterial ‘A Dusty Lunch,’ one of several stunningly panoramic tales unspooling the shared record of a very long-married few, to the playfully clever ‘My Evil Mother,’ this book is a treasure.”
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