My faith in the short story genre has been renewed, and not a moment too soon. After reading all the stories in the Best American Short Stories 2012 for a course, I was beginning to think my dismay and cynicism for this genre was becoming pathological.
Not so! This is an absolutely wonderful, and amazing story! A wickedly decadent journey where the reader gets to indulge in the guilty pleasures of watching a cold calculating plot for revenge unfold with clever precision. In creating a main character like Verna, it’s extremely easy to slip into stereotypes, tropes, and eye rolling cliche. However, there isn’t so much as a hint of any literary faux pas, on the contrary, this story shines as an example of how literature can be impressive, brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable. Ms. Atwood does a masterful job of stripping away the feminine mystique and replacing it with compelling complexity. She lets the mask of normality slip bit by bit, slowly hinting at Verna’s broken past, callousness, and questionable moral compass, so that when we get a taste of the depth of narcissicm and sociopathy, it’s a confirmation of a suspicion not a shock that feels jarring or unearned.
Wow, I could go on and on about this one, but I don’t want to write too many spoilers. Trust me, seek this one out. It’s a short story but one that makes me wish it had been a full length novel.