Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

I read a great collection of "new fairy tales," edited by Kate Bernheimer, of fairy tales retold, reconceived, and new. Many of these stories--all by different writers, and such a wide range, including of course many I haven't heard of (I've put several books on hold since I started this book, wanting to read more by some of these writers!)--is a retelling of a classic story, or some kind of reworking of the story--but some of them are new fairy tales, maybe playing with some elements of the classics.

I know most of the stories that are being played with, but I've discovered some new ones:

Donkey Skin:
The White Cat:

Highly recommended collection. Lots of fun. Always so interesting to see which elements writers pull out of familiar stories, and so much fun to read fairy tales based on stories I don't know or don't know as well.

There's a "Snow White" with no Snow White, only dwarves--this might be one of my favorites. Francine Prose wrote a strange beautiful unexpected "Hansel and Gretel." There are a couple awesome and very different "Rumpelstiltskin"s, a fabulous "Swan Brothers" (I did always love "The Swan Brothers," and it is such an odd story, really), and on and on and on.

The mothers and fathers in fairy tales are so weird. It's great. Nice to see certain elements highlighted or addressed at a literal level.

I'm going to reread and read lots of fairy tales now. Some more. Again. After I read Emily, Alone, by Stewart O'Nan, which I got off the "Lucky Picks" shelf so I won't be able to renew it, and In Cold Blood, which is this month's bookclub book. Then (and honestly, probably in between), fairytales.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wonder Struck, by Brian Selznick

I loved Selznick's previous novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Loved it so much that it shot up into my canon almost instantly. It is even on my 50 Favorite Books List.

So I had unfairly high expectations for Wonder Struck. I was almost certain to be disappointed. And I was. I was disappointed that I didn't want to read it again immediately. That's an unreasonable expectation, but that's how I felt about Hugo.

I am excited to reread Wonder Struck, though. Maybe in a month or two. It's the same fabulous confluence of text and image telling the story--though for much of Wonder Struck, there is one story told in text and the other in image, which frankly I didn't like. We'll see if it grows on me. They are related stories, and they come together beautifully in the end. I don't know.

So Wonder Struck is a wonderful book. I'm not sure yet if it's a great book. It's no Hugo Cabret, that's for sure. But who would really want it to be? That would've been disappointing too. I'm happy with how different a story it is, and I have to give Selznick props for telling what is in many ways a more ambitious story. So yeah. Read it. It's awesome. It's not on my top 50, but only 50 books are.