Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood - review by Robert Collins

Robert Collins

Never Too Old

Stone Mattress


Bloomsbury 273pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Death, ageing and deterioration menace almost every character in Margaret Atwood’s ninth collection of short stories. Yet even with all the senescence and decrepitude and retirement homes and memorial services and nostalgically recalled romances and tragically fading sexual powers on show, the principal characteristics that jump out of these acerbically memorable tales are vitality, wicked humour and Atwood’s unabatingly sprightly eye for the minutiae of male and female desire.

Sexual frisson pulses through her characters almost in defiance, it seems, of their advancing years. In ‘Torching the Dusties’ Wilma, a frail woman whose macular degeneration has confined her to a care home – and, as a consequence, to the cloying, farcically cavalier attentions of Tobias, a pompous, English co-resident

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