Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood: Revenant

Stone Mattress

In Revenant, which is loosely connected to Alphinland, we meet Constance’s faithless ex-lover, Gavin. Gavin is now an old man living with his third wife, Reynolds, who is thirty some years junior to him. He is an accomplished author and it seems Naveena, a literary scholar from Iowa, is basing her thesis on his work. Although he is happy to get this attention, he pretends it to be an ordeal for him, dismissing Naveena saying “every halfwit has an M.A.” Gavin’s ego gets hurt when he finally realizes the real purpose of Naveena’s trip to Florida is to get an insight to Constance’s work, whose fame has surpassed his by a great deal, and his anger spirals out of control!

He can’t pretend this matters to him – to be cast as a mere secondary source in the main action, the main action being Constance. Constance, the fluffball, with her idiotic gnome stories. Constance the flake. Constance the bubblehead.

Through the grumblings of an old man, Margaret Atwood shifts our focus to the running theme of Revenant, as well as Alphinland, which is aging. Gavin is aware of the decayed state of his body, and yet to come into turns with that. Looking back to his youthful days, he is humiliated by his impotence, and having a much younger wife only adds salt to the wound.

… This idea is dismaying: having some estrogen-plumped babe a quarter of his age contort his stringy knobbled limbs while comparing the dashing protagonist of his earlier poems, replete with sexual alacrity and sardonic wit, to the atrophied bundle of twine and sticks he has become. Look on this picture, then on this.

Reynolds attends to Gavin’s constant needs, but Gavin’s inabilities make him a bitter, scornful person. Every now and then without realizing Reynolds patronizes Gavin, causing him dismay, and the things she does to ‘help’ him seem to only remind Gavin that he is no longer the ‘magnificence self’ he used to be.

The most intriguing part of this story for me was seeing how Gavin perceive his breakup with Constance. Although Gavin reminisces his time with Constance with nostalgia, he can not remember the exact details of his betrayal. Even the name Marjoree is lost on him! I can’t wait to read Dark Lady and find out if Marjoree has forgotten about the affair too! 😀


One comment

  1. […] Lady is loosely connected to both Alphinland and Revenant short stories and based on Marjoree, the last link in a love triangle. Marjoree; also referred […]


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