Often insightful, and sometimes clever enough to induce audible laughter, Margaret Atwood‘s Moral Disorder is a satisfying collection of tales. The way in which the thinking of the characters feels extremely familiar, while the circumstances in which they live are not, reminds me of Alistair MacLeod. I think the association comes from how calmly tragedy is presented: how they just unfurl as you progress through the pages, most of them too indistinct to generate more than vague sorrow.
The stories that make up the book involve connected lives, all jumbled together and ultimately connected more by tone than by narrative consistency. The language is that of an author confident but not showy, able to make you empathize with her characters. The writing is mature, as you would expect from an author so revered, and thankfully not pretentious in the way great authors tend to become, once their most creative work is behind them.
Like MacLeod’s work, these stories are heavy with the inevitable and the inescapable. As such, the dominant tone is one of resignation or, at the very best, the recognition that things are, for the moment, better than they have been.