Moral Disorder

2007-01-15

in Books and literature, Canada

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.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon January 15, 2007 at 2:02 pm

The Guardian has a good review (link) online.

Of course, the purpose of a nook review is often more to show that you can say something clever than to provide an objective assessment.

Milan January 15, 2007 at 3:08 pm

[T]he purpose of a nook [sic] review is often more to show that you can say something clever than to provide an objective assessment.

Very true. After all, half the point of reading literature is gaining the ability to discuss literature, and one certainly does not want to sound dim-witted while doing so.

Alena Prazak January 16, 2007 at 7:38 pm

I loved the story called “Labrador Fiasco”. It was hilarious at times and intensely painful at others. I especially enjoyed the contrasts and imagery.

Milan May 24, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Ursula K Le Guin wrote a good review of this book, for The Guardian.

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