Bluebeard’s Egg – a review

In this book, Margaret Atwood shares with us a set of short stories. The principal characters are all women. The narrative revolves around their self perception. Each story represents an episode from a life. Many of these episodes are ongoing and without conclusion regardless of coming to the end. However, this doesn’t matter because the stories are more about getting an insight into what makes each principal tick, rather than the story itself. This is an intimate and rewarding approach to sharing the motivation for some women’s choices. In a way, this approach makes discussion of the stories themselves superfluous. So, I am going to consider the writing style used to communicate these internal dialogues instead.

I like Margaret Atwood’s style. It is direct and concise. Atwood’s sentences are short and often punchy. She is descriptive in a precise and succinct way. She fills out her characters in a purposeful, almost business like manner, but without sacrificing personality. Quite an achievement really. There’s something empirical in the way she speaks to the reader. She writes from an evidence base. There is an explanation for everything so that the content becomes believable and thus compelling.

Internal dialogues are an important tool for Atwood. She utilises self consciousness to tell the character’s story in such a way you develop an intimate perspective. It feels partly voyeuristic. On the other hand, there is a concurrent application of third party detachment. This balance allows you to proceed without feeling too guilty about listening to private thoughts and observing private actions. This approach works well for the reader. It invites you in. As a consequence, each encounter feels primarily like a unique sharing of a personal psychological profile. Each story becomes something of a secondary tale, just a vehicle for achieving the author’s primary goal.

Recommended as an interesting and informative approach to gender specific short story telling.

If it wasn’t

If it wasn’t for your touching me

I wouldn’t know what touch could be

If it wasn’t for your sweet embrace

I would never have looked into your face

If it wasn’t for your sparkling eyes

I wouldn’t have seen just where love lies

If it wasn’t for your soft  whispering

I wouldn’t know my heart could sing

If it wasn’t for your soft warm kiss

I would never have known what I missed

If it wasn’t for you warmth at night

I wouldn’t know what two just might

If it wasn’t for your body bare

I wouldn’t have loved you everywhere

If it wasn’t for your faith in me

I wouldn’t know how far to see

If it wasn’t for you my own true love

I wouldn’t know to rise above

I hold this all so close to me

I use it all to keep me free

So I’m the one I want to be

The one who loves. You eternally.