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Moral Disorder
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Moral Disorder [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Atwood
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Denaker's fine, deep voice and varied vocal range works particularly well with Atwood's sardonic humor. But her articulation is so perfect as to be disconcerting, often tossing impediments into Atwood's carefully wrought sentences. The first story begins with an elderly married couple, Tig and Nell, having breakfast and tea while discussing some horrific political murders occurring far away. This is the framework for the family stories to come. Nell's girlhood is dedicated to the tender care and feeding of her difficult sister. She perpetually struggles with the pleasure and resentment of her lifelong role as caregiver to her sister, Tig, his sons, his ex-wife and, finally, her own parents. Her life-like Atwood's book-is "a sock drawer into which a number of disparate things were shoved, a jumble." Apparently personal, perhaps even autobiographical, these stories are knit together by the "moral disorder" Atwood sees in everyone from one generation to the next.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Atwood's brilliant and bracing novels appear apace, yet it's been 15 years since her last short story collection, Wilderness Tips. Atwood now returns to the form in a book of interconnected tales that span the life of a skeptical, stoic, book-loving woman named Nell. Swooping back and forth in time and mordantly assessing everything from fashion to the counterculture to real estate, Atwood touches down to illuminate Nell at age 11, knitting furiously while awaiting the arrival of an unexpected sibling. Lizzie turns out to be an exceedingly anxious child, and their exhausted mother leans too heavily on Nell for help. At once fascinated and repelled by the domestic arts, Nell strives to remain unencumbered during her sojourns as an "itinerate brain" at various universities, fending off married academics until she finally falls for one. Tig's dreadfully imperial wife, mother of his two sons, plagues them even after they flee to a farm, where Tig and Nell live in a fever of hard work and earthy sensuousness. Atwood's meticulous stories exert a powerful centrifugal force, pulling the reader into a whirl of droll cultural analysis and provocative emotional truths. Gimlet-eyed, gingery, and impishly funny, Atwood dissects the inexorable demands of family, the persistence of sexism, the siege of old age, and the complex temperaments of other species (the story about the gift horse is to die for). Shaped by a Darwinian perspective, political astuteness, autobiographical elements, and a profound trust in literature, Atwood's stories evoke humankind's disastrous hubris and phenomenal spirit with empathy and bemusement. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 333 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0771008678
  • Publisher: Emblem Editions; Reprint edition (Dec 17 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,519 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
This collection of stories, Atwood's first since Bluebeard's Egg, is a solid, but not exceptional, work by Canada's most famous writer. Atwood is not as strong on literary craft as, for example, Alice Munro, who has also lately produced a collection of semi-autobiographical stories. Atwood has always been content to get across her ideas, which are central to her writing, and it is her ideas or "message" that tend to take precedence over craft. Even so, these stories are interesting and varied. Although it is risky to assume that the first person narrator can be equated to the author (this is generally not true, though the first person narrator is often quite similar to the author), one can certainly gain some insights into Atwood's experiences growing up with her father and mother and much younger sister from these stories. The first story is the only one that mentions the Roman Empire, and here the transition is a bit forced, although the point is well-taken (that our situation is comparable to life in the late Roman Empire). I was a little bothered by the way the two boys in the title story, "Moral Disorder"--the sons of Tig--are never given names or differentiated, not even once. They are always described as "the boys", as though they existed and acted like a single unit in the eyes of the narrator, Nell, and hence in the eyes of the author as well. But apart from these objections, the collection is an absorbing and worthwhile read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atwood only gets better! Sept. 24 2008
It is a real pleasure to see how Atwood's novels develop and change with times. Unlike many authors, she only gets better with each novel. Her novels are fresh, innovative and original. She is able to reinvent her fiction with each new publication, giving the reader something fresh, current and original with every new work. This collection of short stories is fabulous - Atwood at her best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars atwood is never dull May 6 2010
Related to this book and the protagonist in so many ways and on so many levels. Another great from the queen of fiction.
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7 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overworked and dull Nov. 20 2006
This collection of dull short stories has been so over-edited in a subtractive way, that any literary contents within have been pulverized. It appears to be an exercize in control and anal retentiveness, relying on facile shifts of perspective, that are supposed to justify very ordinary literature. In the first story, the author starts with Nell's story as an elderly, (possibly influenced by the begnning of Titanic the James Cameron Movie) and then exposes us to long and languid segments about every detail of her life. The last two pages of the story are supposed to justify this marathon of deliberate crawling, yet the shift from Nell and her husband to the Roman Empire is just as immobile, and a bit Hollywoody. Most of the book continues on in a format of short stories with Nell as the central character, gets better a bit towards the end, and then fizzles away like the Roman Empire.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readers Heaven Jan. 3 2007
By G. E. Melone - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Margaret Attwood has to be the most brilliant writer of our time. Her descriptive brilliance penetrates deep into your soul as her words take wing. Her latest work, Moral Disorder, continues the high standard of her other works such as Cat's Eye, Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake. No matter what genre she dips into, the results are astounding.

This book of short stories, are all connected through the lives of the women of one family. They could be read separately, but together each story adds to the family portrait giving the reader a panoramic view of the three central characters of the book- mother and two daughters.

The way Margaret Attwood describes a daughter trying to get through to her aging mother, lost in reverie or some other country in her mind, makes you want to weep. Her prose is exquisite.

I have never ever never been disappointed with a Margaret Attwood piece and this one is no exception.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant, tantalizing, and slightly mysterious collection of short stories Oct. 27 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on
A good friend of mine is also an incurable Margaret Atwood "fan" and has reminded me yet again of our shared benign affliction, craving assurance that she still has first dibs on MORAL DISORDER the moment I've soaked up the last word of the last paragraph of the last story. "Buy it yourself," I chide her over tea. "We have to support Canadian authors."

"But it's Margaret who supports us!" she exclaims in mock surprise at my naiveté. And once again we marvel at how succinctly, elegantly and inexhaustibly Atwood keeps on revealing "our" ordinary little stories, bares (and bears) "our" secret little griefs and anxieties, and gives wry sincerity to "our" hopes and aspirations, no matter how tangled and threadbare they may seem.

"Our," of course, refers to the collective and peculiar cultural condition known as being Canadian. It matters not one iota to our national great lady of fiction (both short and long) that most of her readers live well south of the fabled 49th Parallel and that we are no more The Great White North than Wal-Mart. For Atwood, mere geography is simultaneously nothing and everything; in her tales, the terrain of the human heart and its myriad tributaries of experience and feeling are the truly renewable natural resources. Or, as my hungry-to-borrow friend puts it, Margaret Atwood can turn a tired and mundane junk-mail idea --- sibling rivalry, common-law couples, hobby farming, teenage angst --- into soul-stirring literature. Amen to that!

And she does it wholly up to form in MORAL DISORDER, whose rather weighty and officious title is just another of those playful authorial devices that belie this collection's true generosity of spirit. Musing on a rainy afternoon, the friend and I decide over our second cup of tea that the book's chosen title could have mimicked any of the 11 lightly connected tales between its covers. How about "The Entities," "White Horse," "The Other Place," "The Labrador Fiasco," or (my personal favorite) "The Art of Cooking and Serving"?

Each title presents itself as tantalizing, slightly mysterious, and ready to give you more than expected, while still keeping back a few secrets of its own. And that strikes me as being quintessentially Atwood. At each turn in the fictional trail she scratches down through an artfully assembled patchwork of characters, relationships and events to show the persistence and poignancy of truth just below the surface.

MORAL DISORDER is good for a week of rainy afternoons, and more. Although we Canadians are known for being generous, my advice is: Don't be too quick to loan this latest Atwood gem out. It's truly a "keeper."

--- Reviewed by Pauline Finch [..]
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Tour into the Past Oct. 28 2006
By DCSusan - Published on
I bought this book a week ago and finished it yesterday. I wanted to savor each of the stories and not rush through through the book. As a contemporary of Atwood's, I could relate to the periods and relationships she so brilliantly describes. The final story, "The Boys at the Lab," I was able to read on two levels--the description of the decline of the narrator's 90+ mother and recollection (only by photos in an album) of a magical period of her childhood.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family, Love, and Life in General in less than 250 pages Feb. 19 2007
By Fiction Reader - Published on
I didn't care for the first story, but I kept on and found the rest of the book more to my liking. And after I read the rest of the book, I understood how the first story fit in. The stories fit together loosely, as episodes from a woman's life. Many chapters focus on her relationships with others - trying to be a good helper to her mother, overwhelmed with a difficult baby; trying to help her sister when she is a still troubled adult; making a life with her lover and his sons on a rural farmstead; dealing with his first wife; handling the aging of her parents, and more. I liked the unromantic descriptions of life on a farm, which show all the difficulties and messes while still revealing how this life could be appealing. I liked the secondary characters, who seem to have lives and personalities of their own even if they only show up for a few pages. I LOVED the story about her father's memory loss, interspersed with a description of an ill-fated historic trek. I actually turned back and instantly re-read that chapter, something I'm not sure I've ever done before. I would give that story 5 stars.

I hadn't read any Atwood in years, and now I'm excited to read what I've missed!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable March 15 2007
By Heather - Published on
This book did not start out the best, during the first story, I nearly set the book aside, ready to call this one a loss. But I made it through the first story and found myself very fascinated by most of the others. This book chronicles a girl's life through chapters that are stories unto themselves that skip around and back and forth in time. Margaret Atwood's writing style is very smooth and vivid.

An enjoyable read, however, I did not find it extraordinary either. I wonder if I would enjoy some of her previous works better and am considering picking one up (any suggestions from Atwood fans?). I wasn't a huge fan of the structure of the book, going from here to there in time with short stories.

Overall, a decent book that I'd imagine fans of Atwood's previous works would have a much better appreciation for than I did.
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