Genre: short fiction collection
Summary: A collection of nine stories. Reads more like a novella followed by five short stories. The first four connected stories are riveting, as each one digs deeper into the fossil record of overlapping friendships turned sour. The other stories are cunning, provocative, and deftly crafted; especially the one about a serial senior citizen killer who stalks luxury cruise ships for fresh victims! All the stories revolve around the versatile idea of a stone mattress: you made your bed, now lie in it; unhappy marriages, death and dying, the very literal stone mattress of fossilized stromatolite, and other, stranger interpretations. Cold hearts in cold beds, tombstones, interment, the bedrock of our past…no matter how you turn this gem, another fresh facet glitters into view.
Critique: Over the course of her career, Atwood has received top honors including an Arthur C. Clarke Award and a Man Booker Prize. Atwood is a fine temptress, luring readers into the fractured minds of the murderous, senile, or insane. This collection is wickedly smart, intrusively absurd, and disturbingly believable. To read it is to feel downright naughty.