**** Moral Disorder and Other Stories By Margaret Atwood
In 11 interconnected stories that span six decades, Margaret Atwood explores a Canadian woman's life in relation to her parents, friends, siblings, an English teacher, even a concentration-camp survivor. In the opening story, the elderly Nell must come to grips with an uncertain world. Back in time, an 11-year-old Nell, living in Toronto, knits clothes for her unborn sister Lizzie, who, in a later story, develops schizophrenia. After stints at universities and work as a freelance editor, Nell meets Oona, and through Oona, her lifelong partner Tig, with whom she escapes to a farm. After decades of caring for those around her, Nell confronts her parents' old age by telling stories to her mother about her youth. "In the end," Nell says, "we'll all become stories."
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. 225 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0385503849
Boston Globe *****
"Each intense encounter builds on a shared and cumulative history between character and reader, and Atwood's magic is such that we not only sense Nell's psychological development over the course of these stories, but we mature ourselves as a consequence of reading them." JULIE WITTES SCHLACK
Dallas Morning News ****
"Before it becomes part of the canon, it's just yours, the singular you, the one Ms. Atwood writes for.... Ms. Atwood is cunning with time, jumping ahead or behind story to story, and often within a story." ISABEL NATHANIEL
Miami Herald ****
"[Each story is one of many] dazzling miniature[s] which, taken together, offer a glimpse of a character, Nell, whose overt experiences parallel those in Atwood's own life.... Moral Disorder reintroduces some of the props of Atwood's other fiction: photographs, scrapbooks, memory." BETSEY WILLEFORD
"Atwood gives us shards of a life, fragments viewed in close-up with empty space around them, but together they make a whole.... Underlying each narrative is wistfulness, whether for what's been lost (the vigor of a parent, one's own youth) or what has yet to be found (unconditional love, one's place in the world)." LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES
Rocky Mountain News ****
"This superb collection of intimately linked short stories more closely approximates the familial preoccupations of her Booker...