Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood: Dark Lady

Stone Mattress

Dark 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 to as Jorrie, no longer young, lives with her twin brother, Martin.

As the Starr star has risen, so has Jorrie’s own star faded: she no longer twinkles, she no longer monkey-shines.

Constance and Gavin both made names for themselves, albeit in different magnitudes, while Jorrie did not have much success in her life. When Constance walked in on Jorrie and Gavin almost half a century ago, Jorrie could not hide her happiness! No more hide and seek, Gavin would finally be with her out in the open, that is what Jorrie thought at first. But alas, for Gavin, it was “Jorrie’s overheated estrogens” that lost him access to “a vast shitload of money” that Constance earned later on!

We learn Jorrie never really loved anyone after Gavin, although she had a string of lovers. So what will happen when Jorrie learns of Gavin’s death? Will the old rivalry between Constance and Jorrie resurface?

Unlike in Alphinland and Revenant, Dark Lady takes issues of aging much lightly. Sure, Jorrie is concerned with her looks, and tries to hold on to her youthful beauty with the help of magical effects of cosmetics (while failing miserably, according to Matin; Tin) but together with Tin, she makes fun of death.

“Don’t you dare get cancer without me!”

“I won’t. Cross my heart and spit. Unless it’s prostate cancer.”

“Don’t do that,” said Jorrie. “I’d feel left out.”

“If I get prostate cancer,” said Tin, “I pledge to arrange a prostate transplant for you so you can share the experience. I know a lot of guys who wouldn’t mind leaving their prostates out the window about now. They could at least get a good night’s sleep: dispense with the pee parade.”

Jorrie grinned. “Thanks a bundle,” she said. “I’ve always wanted prostate. One more thing to whine about in the golden years. Think the donor might like to throw in the whole scrotum?”

Erghhh… So much darkness and fun delivered at once! Brilliant execution! This is the same tone that runs throughout the short story, making it my favorite of the trio.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for the reviews….I will soon be picking up Stone Mattress for reading. I was hooked on to Atwood’s short stories after reading Moral Disorder.

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    1. I haven’t read Moral Disorder. But I read your reviews now, and it sounds fantastic! Now I’ll keep an eye out for it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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