'Wilderness Tips' is a wander through various perspectives on life at large. It is a collection of short stories which looks at the way in which a random selection of people make sense of the lives around them, always addressing the basic human emotions which affect almost every member of the human race. This collection of stories includes 'The Bog Man', the tale of a leathery ancestor who becomes the metaphorical embodiment of a love affair gone cold; 'True Trash', about a summer camp infatuation which results in a pregnancy where the real surprise is in the paternity; and 'Uncles' which tells of a young girl's progress from childhood to a glittering career, with the guardian angel-like presence of her magnanimous uncles always in evidence, despite the malign attempts by some to sabotage her success. This is a typically unpretentious, yet beautiful piece of work by Atwood which will be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates the distinctive writing style of this author. Although I prefer her novels, this book appealed to me because of the many different layers of life it uncovers, and I would recommend it to anyone.
This was my first introduction to Margaret Atwood and it was one of those rare occasions when I thought the hype surrounding a writer was real. Her stories are rigorous and dense. She creates the fantastic out of the mundane. Above all, she may be literary but her writing is eminently accessible. A must for anyone craving really good fiction.
I find I have a place for short stories in my reading portfolio and they are becoming more and more difficult to find. Proven authors like Margaret Atwood still bring out anthologies but the short stories magazines seem to be no longer on the newsagents stands. Magazines that used to have two or three shorts a copy now seem to be made up of human interest articles. The theme that runs through the stories in this book is relationships. Atwood also explores, in depth, a great deal about her characters. Apart from being witty and revealing the stories are often disturbing. There is bound to be a situation or character in this book that reminds readers of themselves or someone they thought they knew well.