Review: Dancing Girls and Other Stories

Dancing Girls and Other StoriesDancing Girls and Other Stories
by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dancing Girls / 0-553-37791-4

This collection of Atwood short stories includes:

- The War in the Bathroom
- When It Happens
- The Man from Mars
- A Travel Piece
- Polarities
- The Resplendent Quetzal
- Under Glass
- Training
- The Grave of the Famous Poet
- Lives of Poets
- Dancing Girls
- Hair Jewelry
- Giving Birth
- Rape Fantasies
- Betty
- The Sin Eater

These stories are classic Atwood material: the stories explore pain in modern relationships, and the ennui that sets into modern life and leaves people feeling deeply sad, yet unable to explain their sadness. In the face of material security, socially acceptable relationships and jobs, and owning lavish goods and homes, why do we still feel so sad? Other stories carefully examine mental deterioration, whether mental illness ("The War in the Bathroom") as the main character slowly seems to spiral into dementia, or severe strain brought on by unusual circumstances ("A Travel Piece"). Atwood posits that, in the face of complete breakdown, a part of us still hangs onto our familiar routines, even when hanging on seems absurd. Whether this absurd cling to the familiar helps to maintain our sanity or whether it merely hastens the descent into madness is never made clear.

~ Ana Mardoll

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