I started tackling Margaret Atwood’s oeuvre a couple years ago — I think the first one I read was Alias Grace, and since then I’ve read 17 of her books. Every time I go to Half Price to see if there’s anything new (to me), and I’m starting to run out! Dancing Girls is a short story collection (her first one, in fact), and while it wasn’t one of the better Atwood books that I’ve read, it was still pretty good.
“Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that’s wrong. They know less, that’s why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.”
Dancing Girls, like most of Atwood’s works, is pretty heavy on feminist themes. It was written in 1977, and in a lot of ways you can tell — in others, it seems brand new. My main complaint with this collection is that the stories seem pretty repetitive — lots of unhappy women, stuck in stale relationships (mostly with men, sometimes with friends/family/roommates). The only one that real stuck out for me was “Rape Fantasies”, which is not what you’d expect, and actually very funny. Overall, if I’d read this in 1977 as my first exposure to Atwood, I bet I’d have a very different reaction. But with the benefit of looking back, I can see how she still had so much more to say.