story: “Fire Horse”
author: Karen Shepard
where: Home, in bed
note: I love this story, though I hesitate to call it one story. It feels like two stories about the same characters. Margaret Atwood has two stories like that in Bluebeard’s Egg, but she chose to split them into two titles and group them beside each other.
a line: “Weeks before we left New York, my grandmother had told me over the phone from her apartment in Paris that it was only a matter of time before my mother would lose interest in me, now that I was grown up.”
theme(s): Families, siblings, mothers and daughters, heritage, love
story: “The Salt Garden”
author: Margaret Atwood
where: Dubai, Common Ground
note: I adore this collection and find the protagonist Alma to be so layered.
a line: “She can’t remember ever having astonished any of her friends with tricks from the instruction book. Astonishing herself was enough.”
story: “Loulou; or, the Domestic Life of the Language”
author: Margaret Atwood
where: in the taxi, on the way to work
note: If I ever login to Facebook, I see these advertisements for Atwood’s online Masterclass and each time, it makes me want to read more of her fiction.
a line: “’Loulou thinks to reify means to make real,’ says Phil to everyone, when he’s hung up the phone. They’re always talking about her in the third person like that, telling each other what she thinks. The truth is that she’s never heard that word before in her life.”
author: Margaret Atwood (pre-The Handmaid’s Tale)
where: london, black coffee
note: this story is featured in the phenomenal collection, Bluebeard’s Egg. It also has an intriguing POV swap near the end.
a line: “Tonight, she feels dingy, old. Soon she will start getting into the firming cream; she will start worrying about her eyelids. Beginning again is supposed to be exciting, a challenge. Beginning again is fine as an idea, but what with? She’d used it all up; she’s used up.”
story: Where Do You Go?
author: Samar Farah Fitzgerald
where: in bed, surrounded by luggage needed to be packed
note: the lake, the lush sleepy town, feels pushed up against Margaret Atwood’s Bluebeard’s Egg, utterly enjoyable (both stories)
a line: “And at some point, Vega’s unlikely reaction to Henry’s attention–the very fact that she didn’t anticipate falling for anyone like him–became more exciting, more arousing to her than the adventures she could have with a man who was uncaring, unkind.”