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Picks and Pans Review: Dancing Girls

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by Margaret

Atwood Atwood, a Canadian. 43. has published five novels, eight books of poetry and one of criticism, but it wasn’t until her novel Bodily Harm appeared early this year to justified acclaim that she attracted much attention in the U.S. This collection of short stories published from 1971 to 1977, mostly in Canadian magazines, is an illustration of what the uninformed have been missing by not reading her writing. Several of the stories focus on young women—a student pursued by a strange admirer, a tourist contemplating suicide as a human sacrifice, a writer stricken with an untimely nosebleed. They are sparse indeed when it comes to dramatic turns of event. But they’re full of acute introspections wryly expressed: The tourist, for instance, wonders what she would be doing if her husband “had conveniently died. It wasn’t that she wished him dead, but she couldn’t imagine any other way for him to disappear.” Atwood has some unfortunate didactic moments, but her stories are more often involving to read and even better to ponder. (Simon and Schuster, $14.50)