Mass Market Paperback, 132 pages
Published October 13th 1998 by Laurel Leaf Books
This little known anthology (I say little known because it is pretty old and I wasn’t even aware of it unless it appeared in a reading list of one of my LIBR classes) contains fantastic retellings of popular tales translated and made known to the world by the Grimm brothers. Galloway’s reimaginations are such that they give the stories in question a fresh look and make them a pleasure to read. Even though the anthology was published seventeen years ago, the retellings are still very pertinent and very much meet contemporary society’s need to revision folktales and shape them into answering our needs.
I loved the retelling of Red Riding Hood. As the synopsis mentions, “Red Riding Hood” has a futuristic setting and Galloway manages to give both the beasts and the humans new dimensions and new depths that give their actions a deeper and more substantial meaning than in the original (not that the original had much substance but you get my meaning). Worth a mention is Jack and the Beanstalk which tells the story from the perspective of the giant’s wife and the story becomes something entirely different. I also really liked The Little Mermaid because I must admit that the original is not one I am a fan of.
I encourage fans of fairy tales to give this anthology a try. It brilliantly retells the stories using perspectives a reader would not usually consider as being suitable for the story. It gives each story a curious depth and a completeness that is very much different from the superficial frothiness that the original tales have with the happy ever after tagged on at the end.
Hardcover, 237 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Bantam
Let me tell you the story about how this book and I met.
It was a rainy day in September and I was frantically looking through books at the Vancouver Public Library sale. This novel caught my eye but I put it aside convinced that I had no room in my suitcase (yes, I took a suitcase) for this title but then my eye snagged on it and it seemed to regard me sadly. So finally I decided that back be damned, I must have this book. And 75 cents later, it was mine.
Of course, it languished on my shelf for quite a while before I picked it up but it only took the first page before I fell in love. This series is edited by Jack Zipes, whose work in folktale and mythology is legendary. The novel contains stories by a variety of authors who write in a variety of styles but all of them do one important thing: they give new colour and a fresh twist to the tried and tired fairy tale.
The titular tales are also favourites of mine. The Gentle Knight by Richard Schickel goes a long way to recreating the tales of knights while the Outspoken Princess gives you another side to princesses. Another tale that I particularly liked is The Faithful Bull by Ernest Hemingway. All short tales are by turns poignant, funny and speak more candidly about what contemporary society needs in the way of fairy tales than the tales of yore. If you are like me and consume fairytales insatiably, this collection is for you.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2012 by Random House Children’s Books
Source: Net Galley
In the synopsis, the author is described, amongst other things, as versatile and that is certainly one of the adjectives I would wholeheartedly attach to her. This versatility is especially evident in On the Day I Died. It is quite difficult to develop different and distinct voices in one book and Fleming achieves it about ten different times in the same novel. The collection of stories all have one theme but are populated by teens from various times in history with very different social positions and ways of talking, thinking and other expression. Fleming stays true to the characters she creates and I felt that this was one of the reasons this collection is such a success.
“We may just be specters in this world, but our stories, if they are remembered and retold, become real and solid and alive… Once you hear a story, it becomes part of you. It can’t die.”
Another factor that makes this collection of short stories so readable is that it encapsulates in its few pages an entire universe, a whole story. Sometimes, some short stories feel like short glimpses, very fragmentary and leaves the reader frustrated by its shortness but Fleming tells a whole story that feels complete on its own. These are poignant reflections that let readers glimpse the fickleness of life, of the inevitability and unfairness of death and more than that, it shows readers to take enjoyment in their lives. There are no obvious morals or preaching in the stories which I appreciated. The stories feel like you are in a house with many windows and you open one window to one different life and one character before closing it and then opening another one.
I liked this one a lot. I recommend it to anyone who likes something chilly, something interesting and something that leaves you wanting to read more.