My rating: 4 stars
All the short stories in the collection Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood focus on the life of the same woman, Nell, and her relationship with her family. Particularly when the stories are told in the first person, they are enthralling and immersive. The more stories we read, the more we learn not only about Nell, but also about her partner, sister and parents. Their personalities become gradually clearer, and their tribulations are more often than not tangible and authentic. The least gripping stories are the ones narrated in the third person.
The collection opens with the story ‘The Bad News’. It focuses on an old couple who has a different outlook on the news that they read and listen to. Only later in the collection do readers learn that Nell is the woman telling some of the stories, including this one, and the protagonist of the collection. Albeit short, the story paints a clear picture of the couple’s personalities and their long-lasting relationship. It’s duly sarcastic at times.
The moods of the characters are as palpable in ‘The Art of Cooking and Serving’. The narrator recalls how, when she was a child, she knitted clothes for the sibling that her mother was carrying. She had to help with many of the chores, because her mother had to spend a long time resting. Hers was a high-risk pregnancy. Despite a long time having passed since the events, the confusion and fear the narrator felt is tangible. It was after that moment that she decided to exist not only to serve others, but also to become more independent. Change is a main topic in ‘The Other Place’ as well. The narrator recalls how she kept moving from one place to another as a young adult and the people she met along the way. Continue reading