“Old Babes in the Wood” by Margaret Atwood from the April 26 & May 3, 2021 issue of The New Yorker
I‘m glad to see more work coming from Margaret Atwood, now an octogenarian having turned 80 shortly after (co-) winning the Booker Prize in 2019 for The Testaments. I have not particularly cared for her novels for some time and still haven’t read The Testaments, but I do value her insight and ability, and I’ve still enjoyed her short stories a lot. Her last collection was 2014’s Stone Mattress, and I think it would be wonderful if we got another full collection soon.
“Old Babes in the Wood” takes place at a family cabin on the lake; two elderly sisters are there, as they have been often since their father built it some 70 years earlier. This kind of premise captures me immediately — I’m not sure why!
Here is how the story starts.
“Pants or dead leaves?” Lizzie says.
“My guess is pants,” Nell says. The two of them stand on the dock in their age-inappropriate bathing suits and stare at the dark patch under the water.
An hour earlier, Nell was toasting her laundry on the dock, which was the best place to dry it: it had been the best place for seventy years. But she didn’t put rocks on top of her cotton yoga pants, though she ought to have known better, and then she went back up the hill to the house, through the sighing and rustling trees. The pants are lightweight, and they seem to have blown away. Logic dictates that they must be somewhere in the lake. Other pants she might have kissed goodbye, but she’s fond of these.
This is a double issue, so we should have plenty of time to read it before we feel pressure to start the next one! I hope it’s good, and I look forward to any comments any of you have. Please share below!
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