‘Once there were some twin sisters […] Their names were Patient Griselda and Impatient Griselda. They were pleasing in appearance. They were Madams and not Sirs. They were known as Pat and Imp. Griselda was what you call their last name. Excuse me, Sir-Madam? Sir, you say? Yes? No, there was not only one. There were two. Who is telling this story? I am. So there were two.’ ~ IMPATIENT GRISELDA by Margaret Atwood
NB: If this were submitted for publication by anyone other than Atwood, I have a feeling it would have never made it past the readers, not because it’s no good but because established authors get to get away with stuff that not-established authors don’t get love for. It’s not an uphill battle once you’ve got a track record. Then again, once you’ve got a track record you run the risk of coming up with subpar stuff that makes it through no matter what, and that’s how the famous slide into irrelevance or, worse, self-parody takes place, the new material a mockery of old breakthroughs and past achievements.
This story — let’s call it a vignette — is not such a case. It has an edge, its wit blending well with a coat of reinvention. Just when you think to yourself, WTF is this, it grabs you and tickles you and shakes you, tracing out its cheeky symbolism, and the mind responds with a nod. A tale you didn’t know you needed until you’re done with it, and then you’re left thinking refreshingly peculiar thoughts. The mark of a good author, to engage the reader longer than the story — vignette — lasts. Attawood! Boccaccio would have hated it, and that’s a compliment.