I love Margaret Atwood. Joe Hill named a boat after her in The Fireman (review forthcoming), and I may have squealed a little in delight when I saw it. I’m still getting through her whole bibliography — I love going to Half Price Books and seeing if they have anything by her that I’ve missed. Her novels and short stories rarely miss the mark for me. Wilderness Tips, a short story collection published in 1991, does not disappoint.
“The girls in the stories make such fools of themselves. They are so weak. They fall helplessly in love with the wrong men, they give in, they are jilted. Then they cry.”
Like many of Atwood’s book, Wilderness Tips features primarily women — women in bad relationships, involved with bad and/or married men, women who feel unhappy or unsatisfied or unfairly judged. The stories sort of blend together, but in a way that feels vaguely harmonious. Many of them are set in present day (late 1980s/early 1990s) but flash back to the 1950s or 1960s, which I enjoyed. My favorite was probably the first one, which focuses on the waitresses and campers at a boy’s summer camp — a beautifully written account of childhood and unfortunate girls.
On another note, this book has some of the alternate trippiest covers I’ve ever seen. I can’t even find the one that I read, so I’m bringing you “bug on lady’s face” and “women-deer hybrid” instead. Stay weird, Atwood.