Thursday, February 25, 2010

book clubbing in Feburary

Margaret Atwood is going to be speaking on campus on March 3rd, so we decided that we should read one of her books for February. Our selection was Moral Disorder, her most recent collection of short stories (2006).

Moral Disorder and other stories by Margaret Atwood

Moral Disorder is for the most part a series of interconnected stories featuring the same set of characters, but there are some notable exceptions.

The group had mixed feeling (tending toward ambivalence and annoyance) about Moral Disorder. The biggest complaint was the fact that Atwood didn't fully commit. Moral Disorder is neither a traditional collection of short stories nor a novel masquerading as a set of short stories. The fact that only a small portion of the prose was not interconnected made Atwood's choices all the more perplexing.

While I am a fan of Atwood, I had a hard time with Moral Disorder. I do think, however, the most of my difficulties came from the fact that I was listening to an audio version. Now, I love audio books, but the way this one was presented made it a real challenge to read. Many of the stories in Moral Disorder don't really come to an obvious conclusion (we assume this is because the overarching story is going to continue) and the reader of the audio version did nothing to signal to the listener that story A was done. The title of story B would be said in the same exact tone as the rest of the narration so unless the listener was paying close attention, the stories just merged into one. In other collections this would be less of a problem, but in Moral Disorder with the majority of the characters appearing in multiple stories, it was horribly confusing. The only time I was really able to appreciate Moral Disorder properly was when I set aside a huge chunk of time and devoted myself to it completely, allowing no other distractions.

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