by Margaret Atwood.
Virago Press 2010 (1992)
— There was once a poor girl, as beautiful as she was good, who lived with her wicked stepmother in a house in the forest.There Was Once
This collection of stories cunningly play with reader expectations: they tease, they feint, they nick and draw blood. With a surgeon’s knife Atwood dissects common myths and tropes, performs autopsies on literary classics, male fantasies, human foibles and traditional fairytales. Then, reassembling the parts, she fashions tales that forces us to look anew at what we thought was the case.
The two-dozen plus three pieces in this slim volume are in large part succinct, some barely more than a page or so; others, only slightly less succinct, remorsely hammer home their point while pulling your leg; a few have as a starting or end point a poetic form.
And though some may be seen as taking a feminist standpoint I would argue they are as much humanist, inviting us to take a step back to see not just differences but also similarities, encouraging comprehension more than opposition.Continue reading “A surgeon’s knife”