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'Dancing Girls' is collection of fourteen short stories about 'average' people and their lives. Of course the stories are anything but average, packed with Atwood's acute observations on domestic life and her rich, lyrical prose. Although I am not generally a fan of short stories, her habit of exploring ideas through her writing rather than plots, is definitely suited to this medium.
There is a huge amount of variety in the types of stories in the book which means there is likely something to appeal to everyone. Some, like 'A Man from Mars' and 'When it Happens' are bizarre, surreal stories that do leave you wondering what you were just reading about. Others, like 'The Resplendent Quetzal' are much more traditional Atwood, concerning women and their crises of identity concerning their relationships. This one in particular seemed like a condensed version of 'The Edible Woman.'
'Training' is one of the most memorable stories in the book. It concerns a boy at summer camp who cares for the disabled children, and both his love and repulsion towards them, alongside the anxieties of growing up. It is a very evocative exploration of idealism and our own social attitudes towards the disabled.
'Giving Birth' is definitely an example of Atwood at her finest. Although by far from an enjoyable story, I think it is the first time that a writer has ever made me feel sick, it is a fantastically gory exploration of childbirth and the implications that becoming a mother has on a woman's identity.
Although Atwood does seem to be fond of inconclusive endings, my main criticism of this collection is that many of the stories just end abruptly. I found myself coming to the end of some, particularly 'Dancing Girls,' left wondering if she had simply forgotten to finish it and it does make some of the stories feel very unsatisfying. However, most feel incredibly detailed well fleshed out for short stories, so it is easy to overlook the few that don't.