Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learning From Fairy Tales [The Six Swans Retelling]

From Shelley Jackson's retelling of "The Six Swans" (renamed "The Swan Brothers" in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (pg 93):
        Women are trouble -- if it isn't an evil wife, its an evil stepmother. Or mother-in-law. Mother's are usually all right, unless they're witches -- watch out for witches. And their daughters.
        You might be all right with kings, princes, and fathers, unless, as is usually the case, they're under the influence of someone else, usually a woman. Men are weak. Sometimes they rescue you, but they always have help -- from ants or birds or women. Sometimes you rescue them. This is kind of sweet.
         You can trust animals. Sometimes they turn into people, but don't hold that against them.
         Children had better watch out.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Praise of Fairy Tales [Happily Ever After]

From My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me:
...The National Book Foundation, which administers the National Book Awards, states that "retellings of folk-tales, myths, and fairy-tales are not eligible" for their awards. Imagine guidelines that state, "Retellings of slavery, incest, and genocide are not eligible." Fairy tales contain all of those themes, and yet the implication is that something about fairy tales is simply...not literary. Perhaps snobbery has something to do with their association with children and women.
I love retellings of fairy tales. One of my favorite books from my "young adult" days was Ella Enchanted. I've probably read it fifty times since the time I was twelve (thirteen years ago).  The entire book feels perfectly crafted, each sentence and word fitting in perfectly with the flow of the story. In high school, I reread Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West at least twenty times. And Gregory Maguire's other book, Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister.

I love all of it. And it should be recognized as awesome. I reread Ella Enchanted again and its still perfect. I picked up My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me yesterday from the library, and I'm looking forward to it.