Wilderness Tips

Wilderness Tips

4.0 1
by Margaret Atwood

View All Available Formats & Editions

In each of these tales Margaret Atwood deftly illuminates the single instant that shapes a whole life: in a few brief pages we watch as characters progress from the vulnerabilities of adolescence through the passions of youth into the precarious complexities of middle age.  By superimposing the past on the present, Atwood paints interior landscapes


In each of these tales Margaret Atwood deftly illuminates the single instant that shapes a whole life: in a few brief pages we watch as characters progress from the vulnerabilities of adolescence through the passions of youth into the precarious complexities of middle age.  By superimposing the past on the present, Atwood paints interior landscapes shaped by time, regret, and life's lost chances, endowing even the banal with a sense of mystery.  Richly layered and disturbing, poignant at times and scathingly witty at others, the stories in Wilderness Tips take us into the strange and secret places of the heart and inform the familiar world in which we live with truths that cut to the bone.

Margaret Atwood is the author of over twenty-five books, including fiction, poetry, and essays.  Among her most recent works are the bestselling novels Alias Grace and The Robber Bride and the collections Wilderness Tips and Good Bones and Simple Murders.  She lives in Toronto.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
—The New York Times

"Atwood's writing is assured, her focus clear and her humor ample."

"Atwood's voice, honed after years of writing such books as Lady Oracle and The Handmaid's Tale, is sharper than ever, but still funny...it whispers that the wilderness is right here, right now."
—San Francisco Chronicle

"Each of the stories in Wilderness Tips is a gem, a glittering piece to which one is drawn again and again. To read them is to enter a startling world: strange and too close for comfort."
—Denver Post

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set mainly in Toronto or in the Canadian woods, the 10 beautifully controlled tales in Atwood's new collection testify to the unpredictability of life, its missed connections, unsolvable mysteries and the lightning passage of time. Most of them are refracted through the sensibilities and memories of female protagonists, who reflect on the moment when they realized that ``nothing has turned out'' as they expected. Past and present coalesce seamlessly in these stories; Atwood is particularly good at capturing the feelings of adolescence and the exact details that typify the culture of the decades from the '50s to the '90s. Events are seen at a distance, related in emotionally muted but acutely revealing prose. The hard-edged tone of ``Hairball'' perfectly conjures up the ruthless, manipulative protagonist who suddenly realizes that she has been bested by her obnoxious protege. Susanna, in ``Uncles,'' has a similar comeuppance, as she, the consummate trickster who ``can fake anything'' is betrayed by her mentor. In both ``The Bog Man'' (the least successful tale, as here Atwood uncharacteristically veers toward melodrama) and ``The Age of Lead'' a body uncovered long after death serves as a metaphor for buried desires, opportunities and hopes. In the title story, Atwood observes the interrelationships among three sisters and the randy foreigner who has married one of them and made love to the other two. Atwood's (Cat' s Eye) uncompromising eye is enhanced by her sinewy, taut prose.
Library Journal
In this newest collection of ten short stories, Atwood looks back over three decades that have wrought great changes in women's lives. The impacts of death, disease, deception, and disappointment are explored; Atwood's characters, with their tenuous personal relationships, always endure a terrible aloneness. The loss of trust in others is a recurring theme. In one story a betrayed woman plays a grisly practical joke on her married lover; in another, a man settles for second choice in love and work and lives in apathy thereafter. An art collector's priceless landscapes only serve to remind her of a tragedy in her adolescence. Atwood's stories are unsettling but unforgettable. Recommended for public libraries.
James Wilcox
Almost every one of the 10 stories in this collection superimposes the past upon the present in an unsettling, often startling manner, which conjures up a sense of the mysterious in even the most banal relationships. . . .Well constructed as these stories are, some. . .belabor their themes with built-in explanations.
The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
An effective, uniformly controlled collection of ten stories from the author of, most recently, Cat's Eye (1989). Gathered here are pieces previously appearing in top short- story forums—The New Yorker, Granta, Saturday Night, Playboy—providing an excellent sampling of high-proof Atwood. Virtually all the pieces focus on the lives of women equivocally connected to the men around them. In "Wilderness Tips," a middle-aged woman is bluntly confronted with her husband's infidelity. "Hairball," the most disturbing here, involves the dissolution of a woman's affair with a married man; the otherwise naturalistic posture of the story is powerfully undercut by the presence of a removed tumor that the young lady keeps in a jar, eventually sending it, neatly wrapped, to her lover's wife. In "True Trash," a young woman encounters a youth who is still unaware that he had impregnated a camp employee many years earlier. And "Hack Wednesday" revolves around a disgruntled journalist brought, whimsically, to the brink of an affair before she backs off—not from any pangs of conscience but out of lethargic concern for the work involved in carrying it off. Like Alice Munro, Atwood has a talent for serving up the nuances of bourgeois Ontario culture, but with Atwood the ingredients are boiled down into a stronger and much more acerbic brew. The author's trademark smirk behind the economical prose can be wearying over the course of an entire collection, but taken separately, the pieces here are solid evidence of the author in full form. Pure Atwood.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. A book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales was published in 2014. Her novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. A volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Brief Biography

Toronto, Ontario
Date of Birth:
November 18, 1939
Place of Birth:
Ottawa, Ontario
B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Wilderness Tips 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago