Good Bones – Margaret Atwood

May 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

It does get a little funny, really, when you’re reading a story that’s about a story you read a long time ago, only that this story is a completely different one. It’s like one of those books in the Myth Series by Canongate – retelling a story that’s already so age-old, that you simply can’t think of any other way to think of it.

And then you have authors like Atwood, who write about the stories like as if they were clay – soft and easy to mould. Give it slight twist here, and maybe a little pinch there, and a host of other shape-changing actions, and what was originally a jug would now become a fat plate.

I didn’t manage to finish all the stories in Good Bones before leaving New Zealand and returning the book to the library where it belongs. But I did go through a good half of it.

Some stories in that half I went through – I’m not sure if they even are stories. It’s like Atwood’s just trying to piss us all off by changing the rules of the game that we know so well in fairy tales. She’s just telling us, like as if it’s the truth, that the things that we read were all lies, or at least, sob stories that were covered up with lies to make them read like happy-ever-after stories.

Maybe it’s not what she does to the stories, but how she does what she does. The stories have a certain, “oh, and by the way,” feel to them, the way you would tell someone they forgot to mention that there was also cheese in the burger. But I’ll be damned if it was only just cheese – when Atwood tells its, it’s not just cheese anymore. It becomes diced cheese shaped like animals eating other animals on an isolated island in an unknown sea.

I didn’t really get the image, sometimes, but for most of what I read, it was funny. It was believable. You’d read, and you’d think, “Yup, that’s exactly what happened.” And those images you had since so many years ago when you first read those stories just vanish into thin air, because now you can’t get Atwood’s version out of your head.

I mean, if the Little Red Hen was really so happy to just do all the hard work to make the bread, would she really suddenly harden up and not share that bread? Really. The Little Red Hen would be more than happy to give the whole bread away to those who didn’t have to work for it. And more.


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