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on December 18, 2001
I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood. I have enjoyed most all of her novels but, after reading "Dancing Girls", I was under the opinion that short stories were not her thing. However, I believe the collection of stories in "Wilderness Tips" is one of her best works. The stories are superb beginning with "True Trash" which takes us to a summer camp and introduces us to a young woman's secret and a younger man's sad lack of awareness of the life he's created. It ends, or rather, evaporates leaving us with unrealized expectations. "Hairball" is a marvelous story about revenge for a scorned affair. "The Bog Man" is essentially the same subject matter. "Uncles" is a beautiful story about the father figures in a girl's life. Although she doesn't know her real father, she knows her uncles. Their characters are somewhat undeveloped because it is their strength, not their personality that we need to understand. We follow the life of the girl whose security is lost after the uncles are gone. For me, the most compelling story is "Death by Landscape". The story takes place at a summer camp and involves the lives of two girls who become attached after spending successive summers together. The ending is bizarre and Atwood takes us beyond that and leaves us with eerie goosebumps. The other stories are compelling and the reader finishes ready for more. Margaret Atwood is a very gifted writer and may some day be awarded the Nobel Prize. Her insights to femininity (as opposed to feminism) are a prime element of her genius. If you haven't read Atwood, this would be an excellent introduction. If you have read Atwood, then you'll be reading this anyway (if you haven't already).
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on May 21, 2001
Atwood's 'Wildnerness Tips' is a bizarre, seemingly mismatched collection of short stories, which focus primarily on themes of love, redemption and growing-up. The stories are written with poise and elegance and the subtext is wonderfully woven, however the actual content of the stories is at times lacking.
The second story, 'Hairball', is utterly disgusting in its description of an ovarian cyst, leaving the reader feeling genuinely nauseous. That Atwood's writing is able to generate such emotion in the reader is incredible, that she chooses to do so to such an extent in this particular story is despicable.
Other stories are written with a degree of tenderness - 'True Trash' tells the timeless tale of kids at summer camp, and reminds us of the consequences of fooling around. 'Death by Landscape' is vaguely based on the story of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock', while 'Uncles' is a stunning piece which captures an individual's ongoing struggle with expectation through both work and family.
The style of writing gradually becomes tedious, and I would advise reading no more than 1 story a week to allow the rich texture of the language to be fully absorbed. The stories are also frustrating in that they build towards a climax but generally end without proper explanation, leaving the reader bewildered and not fully understanding the significance of the previous 20 or so pages.
Nevertheless, for those able to tolerate Atwood's unique writing style and her repititious storylines, 'Wilderness Tips' is certainly a worthy read.
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on October 23, 2001
All those who admire Ms Atwood's intense style and involvement won't go wrong here. All the stories brought me into an emotional identification with the characters and the plot which made me feel ... "this was happening to me." My only criticism is that all but one of the stories took sexual promiscuity and marital infidelity for granted, and I do not believe this is normal for most people. I also do not believe this is necessary to be interesting (I recall Sartre's comment that a 50-year old loving relationship was far more fascinating than a torrid but shallow and brief affair). Oddly, I consider "Death By Landscape" to be the volume's best story, and this had no such relationships. So please, Ms Atwood, give us more stories, and write them with your normal quality and style, but leave out the sexual hyper-attachment and overemphasis on the disruptions caused by hormonal challenging. There are plenty of more fascinating parts of the human psyche!
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on October 30, 2001
This book's short stories are another example of Ms Atwood's riveting style and her plots that make one feel the tale is really happening to them as it unfolds. I would advise reading her stories with a sense of humor, though, because they can become somewhat depressing and intense. Her emphasis on sexual misadventures and an overinterest in hormonal pleasures seemed to cheapen the very human adventures told by these short stories, and I thought this was the weakest link in these stories. By contrast, I found "Death by Landscape" (which told a powerful story with no dwelling on passion or lust) to be the best and brightest story in this volume. A good read, but, again, bring along a sense of humor and some lightness.
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on November 25, 1998
Wilderness Tips is arguably Margaret Atwood's best short story collection and eloquently shows Atwood's warmth, wit, intelligence, humanity and insight into relationships. My personal favourites are 'Hairball' and 'Bog Man' and 'True Trash.' If you have read anything else by Margaret Atwood and enjoyed it, you won't be disappointed by this collection. I also recommend Alice Munro to anyone who is a fan of Atwood; she's not quite as funny or compelling, but she does write highly polished, interesting short stories.
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on August 23, 1998
In a college English class I was introduced to "Death By Landscape," a short story from Atwood's "Wilderness Tips." Atwod has always been a favorite of mine, and her short story was no exception. Immediately I went out and bought "Wildnerness Tips." From "True Trash" to "Hairball" I was kept glued to the pages of Atwood's anthology. Simply put: I loved it. Her stories were thoughtful and complex--and even a bit unordinary.
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on June 4, 2002
Margaret Atwood is my favorite living author and this is my favorite short story collection of hers. Each story is filled with regret, incisive narrative, and a cunning eye that sees right through people. If you have a dark sense of humor you will love this collection. "Hairball" is hilariously perverse and "Death by Landscape" is simply touching. I've read this collection several times. These stories will haunt you.
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on August 7, 2000
"Hairball" changed my life. Afer recognizing myself as the protagonist and wishing that I had a hairball to send, I was able to get away from a destructive relationship. I re-read this book every summer. I give it as a gift to people who need to get away from "Bog Men." Atwood's perceptive metaphors are more true-to-life than the visible world.
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on May 5, 1998
Most favorite being 'Hairball'. Most of us probably has had a 'stunted' relationship alike Kat & Ger's. Never before have chocolates been packaged so deliciously wicked...
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on September 13, 1998
In "Wilderness Tips" there is no redeeming value in any of the relationships in any of the stories. You would expect at least one of the stories to contain some hope for the future...but in all of the stories there is an underlying sense of hopelessness and despair. Any of the characters that have a sense of self are broken by the end of the story. What is the point?
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