The Tent is modest in size, a pocketbook that fits snugly into jacket or cardigan, or slips almost weightlessly into the smallest bag. A collection of thirty or so brief essays, stories and wry reflections on ageing and death, it’s perfect to read on the train or bus, to fill the pauses and distract the mind from other travellers with their burgers and rucksacks and ambiguous expressions. At £12.99 for barely 160 pages, it might also be regarded as a publisher’s scam, something to keep the punters happy and bridge the gap before the next major novel.
Taking such a cynical view does Atwood a disservice. In fact, she doesn’t need this kind of hype. Apart from being an award-winning novelist and poet with a career that stretches back decades, in the past four years she has published Oryx and Crake, a (weighty) novel that takes consumerism