The Tent by Margaret Atwood


The Tent by Margaret Atwood

Sixteen years ago (zooooooooooooooooom: that’s time whizzing by) I started a writer’s journal as a requirement of a Creative Writing MA course I was on at the time.  I say requirement because we were instructed to write in our journal every day, but as we didn’t have to hand it in or read it out in class it was nobody’s business but our own whether we did it or not.

A few months ago while packing to move house I came upon my journal, a rather severe looking black notebook. Inside are four pages, one page per day, about not having anything to write about; the rest of the pages are blank. The fact I didn’t manage even one week of daily writing should have told me something but I ploughed on with the course regardless.

The Tent is how I imagine a writer’s journal should be.  The blurb calls it “a collection of smart and entertaining fictional essays” but it’s a mixture of tales, ideas, meditations, tit-bits. Each piece is short, mostly two to three pages long, though the shortest is only half a page and the longest eight pages.  There are a couple of poems. Sketches, too, also by Atwood.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite writers.  It’s hard to imagine her ever writing a bad sentence.  And though The Tent is wryly amusing at times, I mainly just wanted to finish it and move onto reading something worthwhile.

If you’re a die-hard Atwood fan or student then maybe give it a try.  Otherwise read The Handmaid’s Tale or Alias Grace or the Booker prize winning The Blind Assassin – all brilliant!

Rating: * not for me

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