Wilderness Tips

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Overview

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...

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Wilderness Tips

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dazzling."
—The New York Times

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

"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.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385491112
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 958,772
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret  Atwood
Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939, and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She has lived in numerous cities in Canada, the U.S., and Europe.

She is the author of more than thirty books – novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children.

Atwood’s work is acclaimed internationally and has been published around the world. Her novels include The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye – both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Robber Bride; Alias Grace, winner of the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and a finalist for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize and a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her new novel is Oryx and Crake (2003). She is the recipient of numerous honours, such as The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in the U.K., the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the U.S., Le Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and she was the first winner of the London Literary Prize. She has received honorary degrees from universities across Canada, and one from Oxford University in England.

Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with novelist Graeme Gibson.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

When Margaret Atwood announced to her friends that she wanted to be a writer, she was only 16 years old. It was Canada. It was the 1950s. No one knew what to think. Nonetheless, Atwood began her writing career as a poet. Published In 1964 while she was still a student at Harvard, her second poetry anthology, The Circle Game, was awarded the Governor General's Award, one of Canada's most esteemed literary prizes. Since then, Atwood has gone on to publish many more volumes of poetry (as well as literary criticism, essays, and short stories), but it is her novels for which she is best known.

Atwood's first foray into fiction was 1966's The Edible Woman, an arresting story about a woman who stops eating because she feels her life is consuming her. Grabbing the attention of critics, who applauded its startlingly original premise, the novel explored feminist themes Atwood has revisited time and time again during her long, prolific literary career. She is famous for strong, compelling female protagonists -- from the breast cancer survivor in Bodily Harm to the rueful artist in Cat's Eye to the fatefully intertwined sisters in her Booker Prize-winning novel The Blind Asassin.

Perhaps Atwood's most legendary character is Offred, the tragic "breeder" in what is arguably her most famous book, 1985's The Handmaid's Tale. Part fable, part science fiction, and part dystopian nightmare, this novel presented a harrowing vision of women's lives in an oppressive futuristic society. The Washington Post compared it (favorably) to George Orwell's iconic 1984.

As if her status as a multi-award-winning, triple-threat writer (fiction, poetry, and essays) were not enough, Atwood has also produced several children's books, including Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995) and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003) -- delicious alliterative delights that introduce a wealth of new vocabulary to young readers.

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

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