Read My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales by Kate Bernheimer Carmen Gimenez Smith Gregory Maguire Joyelle McSweeney Lydia Millet Sarah Shun-lien Bynum Brian Evenson Michael Cunningham Online


The fairy tale lives again in this book of forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction. Neil Gaiman, “Orange”   Aimee Bender, “The Color Master”   Joyce Carol Oates, “Blue-bearded Lover”   Michael Cunningham, “The Wild Swans”   These and more than thirty other stories by Francine Prose, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Lydia Millet, and many other extraThe fairy tale lives again in this book of forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction. Neil Gaiman, “Orange”   Aimee Bender, “The Color Master”   Joyce Carol Oates, “Blue-bearded Lover”   Michael Cunningham, “The Wild Swans”   These and more than thirty other stories by Francine Prose, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Lydia Millet, and many other extraordinary writers make up this thrilling celebration of fairy tales—the ultimate literary costume party.   Spinning houses and talking birds. Whispered secrets and borrowed hope. Here are new stories sewn from old skins, gathered by visionary editor Kate Bernheimer and inspired by everything from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and “The Little Match Girl” to Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and “Cinderella” to the Brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” and “Rumpelstiltskin” to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino and from China, Japan, Vietnam, Russia, Norway, and Mexico.   Fairy tales are our oldest literary tradition, and yet they chart the imaginative frontiers of the twenty-first century as powerfully as they evoke our earliest encounters with literature. This exhilarating collection restores their place in the literary canon....

Title : My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143117841
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 576 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales Reviews

  • Miriam
    2019-05-11 18:59

    Some of the stories are okay. A couple are good. An unusual preponderance struck me derivative, boring, and/or pretentious. It bothered me that the publisher tried to present this volume as doing something new and important when it is not. At all. "Reinterpreting" fairy tales as coming-of-age stories or coded depictions of sexual abuse has been done for decades, frequently better than it is here. And to be honest, I think the modern view that this was ever new is kind of embarrassing in its naivety; readers/hearers in earlier centuries knew perfectly well what was happening underneath the curses and magical objects and impossible quests, they just didn't need it spelled out for them in short sentences. And they demanded better stories than we do, apparently. It was especially disappointing to read the end comments for each story and see how the authors often started with concepts that sound interesting or innovative -- but then wrote something else. I kept wanting to shake them and demand, "So why didn't you write that story?" Brockmeier's idea for writing a story in the form of a mad-lib, for instance; done well, that could have been both really entertaining to read and also explored ideas about reinterpretation itself and the flexibility of meaning. Instead he wrote something that was ugly and depressing, like most of the contributions to this volume. The few stories that admit positive potentialities (eg. Fowler's reclamation of Baba Yaga) or employ humor (eg, Gaiman's story in the form of answers to elided questions) end up really standing out because they interrupt a generally very consistent tone and style.Lastly, it kind of bothered me how the stories that seemed "ethnic" (i.e. set in Asia or Central America) were lumped together at the end as if that gave them something in common. Makes me wonder how much (or little) thought went into the ordering.

  • Hayley DeRoche
    2019-05-04 18:14

    This book had a lot of potential to be good, but what ended up happening was each writer got the "school assignment" of writing a new sort of fairy tale, and each submission was to be accompanied by an explanation by the author as an end-note. As I went along, my reaction went from "Huh, that was good.......okay that one was a dud...........ho-hum.....oh yay a good one!" as far as stories went.But the author notes just went from pretentious to ULTRA SUPER POWER PRETENTIOUS. Consider the note from one author, who manages to use the terms and phrases "metafictional expose", "demi-lucid", "exploiting the mediation", "calling attention to the artifice in order to dispel the dream that is fiction", and so on and so forth, all in one tiny author note. It took me straight back to my English major days in writing class or the literary magazine submission days, full of a lot of puffed-up explanations that weren't needed. Let the stories speak for themselves! If it has to be so totally explained and pontificated on, maybe the story doesn't work. I found a good general rule: The worse the story, the more pretentious the author note. This has SO MUCH POTENTIAL, even if fairy tales re-told is so very far from being a new idea. I was really excited about this book and now my reaction is like a sad trombone. Author note:Hayley wrote this review with the idea in mind that she wanted to dispel the dream that is the book review and revel in (but not exploit) the artifice.

  • Melki
    2019-04-29 02:19

    This is a fairly decent collection of "updated" fairy tales from around the world. Familiar names like Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Michael Cunningham, and more create "new stories sewed from old skins" by adding twists and spins to classic stories. And like many of the grimmer fairy tales, these stories are definitely NOT for children.Each tale concludes with a few paragraphs by the authors explaining why a particular story was chosen. This was an unexpected and interesting glimpse into the creative process. I was glad to see Rumpelstiltskin treated kindly by some of the authors. It's always annoyed me that this character, who kept his end of the bargain and did just what he'd agreed to do, was cheated out of his just reward. In fairy tales, as in real life, occasionally the squat and ugly should triumph over the fair-haired beauties.

  • Eh?Eh!
    2019-04-21 20:57

    Sarah Montambo and Marie saw me looking longingly at this morbid book, picking it up to read the back and putting it down several times, and since they're both generous, attentive, kind, and LOADED$$$...j/k on that last one, but the rest of it is true and they got me this book! Present!!It looks much cooler than it's turning out to be, for my uncultured and poorly educated taste. But I love it for being a gift from friends who noticed and acted. Who has people like that in their lives? Lucky ones. That would include me.Thank you, Sarah Montambo and Marie! I'm glad to know you both!

  • Tim Storm
    2019-04-29 22:24

    Okay. It's difficult being an anthology. A few stinkers in the collection and people rate it a 3 or 4. But there is no anthology that doesn't have a handful of stories that are weaker or less appealing than the others. For me, the real test is How many excellent stories does it contain? And this book has about 14 really good stories and 4 absolutely superb ones. (My favorites: "The Erkling," "Halfway People," "The Mermaid in the Tree," and "The Color Master"; authors Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Karen Joy Fowler, Timothy Schaffert, and Aimee Bender respectively.) This isn't simply a collection of retellings of fairy tales; of my four favorites, the only one that to me was recognizable was Karen Joy Fowler's "Halfway People," and even that was a pretty radical departure from the original tale (in this case, "The Wild Swans"). Schaffert's "The Mermaid in the Tree" was based on "The Little Mermaid," but it's more like a spin-off than a retelling. All of the stories are based in some original tale, but many of those original tales are fairly obscure, so there are surprises aplenty. Ultimately, this collection helps illuminate just how indebted to fairy tales modern fabulist literature is. The story structure, the mixture of realism and fantasy, the voice, the humor--all of the things that made the original fairy tales so appealing are still alive and well. But the modern adaptations have richer character and more poignant endings.

  • Aubrey
    2019-04-30 23:58

    Well. That was disappointing.I don't know what most of these people were thinking when they wrote these stories. I technically do, going by the end notes, but obviously something went very wrong between them detailing what inspired them and writing while inspired.The first two stories weren't half bad. Actually, the second story 'The Snow Maiden' was the best of the bunch; it had a novel fantastical setting with an interesting plot and satisfying ending. The only other story I can say measured up near to it in terms of quality was 'The Color Master'. As for the rest of them, quite a few flat out disgusted me. Too many grotesque descriptions of gutted bowels and skinned cats and bodily excretions for my taste. And the ones that didn't make me feel nauseous were either trying too hard to be linguistically creative, didn't make any sense, or were just plain boring. Does this mean I've outgrown fairy tales completely? I really don't think so. Magical realism is one of my favorite genres (emphasis on the magical), and I still have a healthy appreciation of supernatural YA as evidenced by my recent re-readings of some of my favorites. This collection was just bad, and the only reasons why it has two stars is for the title and the two decent stories that I mentioned. I'm hoping that when someone attempts this kind of thing again, they use this book as a reference of whatnotto do.

  • Chris
    2019-04-28 20:00

    There is a misnomer on the cover of this book. Some short stories in this volume have not been commissioned for the book. Several of them have appeared in various magazines and collections (some have appeared over a decade ago).This is okay, for this is the first time that they are all collected together and I hadn't read any of them before.The purpose of this collection in part, according to Bernheimer, is to present fairy tales as an acceptable source of literature, at least to present modern fairy tales as such. The succeds very well at this and several stories are truly descendents of the French Salon writers, Andersen, and the Grimms. Some of the stories don't work (at least for me) but several stories are absolutely, jaw dropping friggin (Can I say that?) wonderful. Even the stories that I didn't like (like "Warm Mouth" by Joyelle McSweeny) were at least worthy experiments in differenty styles. Each story has a brief afterword by the author and the table of contents gives the source tale for each story.The two best stories (and it is a very close race, a photo finish, for several stories for this title) are John Updike's "Bluebeard in Ireland", a story about a marriage; and Katherine Vaz's "What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body is Gone", also a story about a relationship. In fact, many of the stories in this collection, as in many fairy tales, focus on relationships. Updike and Vaz's short fiction are really descendents of such older as "Bluebeard" because like the older tales, they look at marriage and relationships in the modern world. The two stories are magical without having "magic" in them.Many of the tales in the collection are not what most readers would call fantasy or horror (I brought this at Borders which had it in the horror section), but there is a good mixture of fantasy and magic realism. I heistate to use the word horror. In fact, the two most distrubing stories, "The Erlking" by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and "With Hair of Hand-Spun Gold" by Neil LaBute, are distrubing because of thier out and out realism. "Dapplegrim" by Brain Evenson is the only true horror story, and considering the source, it shouldn't be surprising.There is humor here as well. I didn't really enjoy Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, but his "Orange" is really, really funny.Overall, the collection fulfills the promise that is made in the introduction.

  • Pamela Scott
    2019-05-03 01:09

    I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with multiple authors’. really enjoyed My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. It’s a great, diverse collection of stories. I love fairy tales, especially darker ones intended for adults. Some of my favourite stories are the adult fairy tales edited by Ellen Datlow. I loved the cover and this is one of the reasons I bought the book. That and the crazy title. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me contains a good mix of stories and there’s something for everyone. I loved how some stories pretty closely resembled the original fairy tale and how some were unrecognisable. Among my favourites were Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child by Joy Williams, Snow White, Rose Red by Lydia Millet, The Wild Swans by Michael Cunningham, A Bucket of Warm Spit by Michael Martone and Blue-Bearded Lover by Joyce Carol Oates.

  • Rowan MacBean
    2019-04-28 22:07

    If you think you're a fan of fairy tales but all you know are the watered-down, Disneyfied versions, steer clear of this book. These are real fairy tales, not shiny magical stories with happy endings to read to your kids at bedtime. They don't flinch away from cannibalism, bestiality, incest, abuse, insanity, death, and general deviance. These modern tales don't stick very closely to the specific stories that inspired them but they DO honor the spirit of them and of fairy tales in general. I LOVE updated/modern/fractured fairy tales and I read them often but most of the time I find one or two good stories amidst a bunch of weak, sugary stuff. This is the first collection I've ever found that didn't disappoint. I usually like to name my favorite story in an anthology, and sometimes I even do a top three. With this book, I couldn't even narrow it down to a top ten. So here are my top fifteen, in the order that they appear in the book:- "I'm Here" by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya- "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin" by Kevin Brockmeier- "Snow White, Rose Red" by Lydia Millet- "The Erlking" by Saah Shun-Lien Bynum- "Dapplegrim" by Brian Evenson- "The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert- "Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian- "Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay" by Jim Shepard- "Body-Without-Soul" by Kathryn Davis- "The Color Master" by Aimee Bender- "Bluebeard in Ireland" by John Updike- "A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper" by Rabih Alameddine- "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility" by Stacy Richter- "Orange" by Neil Gaiman- "Ever After" by Kim AddonizioIf you held a gun to my head and FORCED me to choose a top five, it would be the bolded ones.

  • Simcha Lazarus
    2019-05-05 21:08

    Talk about an attention grabbing title! I’m enjoying telling people about this book just so that I can have the opportunity pronounce the titillating title, and watch the reactions of my friends. But no, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is not about cannibalism. Or at least, not all of it. But since the theme of this short-story collection is fairy tales, you can expect to encounter some pretty gruesome stories in the style of the original Grimm tales, along with stories of adventure, magic and romance.This anthology is edited by Kate Bernheimer whose life-long passion for fairy tales has led her to publish several fairy tale themed books as well as to establish an on-line publication devoted exclusively to the publication of fairy tales. The idea for My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me began with Bernheimer’s desire to prove that fairy tales are an essential part of contemporary literature. To that end she gathered together forty different writers from various cultures and backgrounds and asked them each to write a story using a fairy tale as the starting point. The result is a diverse collection of stories written in all manner of styles and tones, followed by an explanation by the story’s author as to why they decided to focus on the particular fairy tale that they chose.While some of the fairy tales used were familiar to me quite a few of them were ones I’d never heard of before, and I enjoyed becoming acquainted with these new stories. Often, after reading one of the stories, I would head to the Internet to read more about the original fairy tale that the story was based on. Though, I must admit, the stories that I enjoyed the most were ones based on fairy tales that I was already well-acquainted with because I was more able to appreciate the ways in which the author played around with the original story and its themes.Most of the writers here seem to glorify in the grim macabre of the original fairy tales, rather than their softer and more romantic retellings, and the stories in this collection reflect that. Death, Murder, rape, incest and cannibalism are common themes in this story collection and fans of the original Brother Grimm and Hans Christina Anderson stories will likely appreciate this. As for me, I’ve always preferred the more romanticized versions of these stories and my favorites in this collection were the ones with the least blood and gore. I also preferred the stories which were narrated in a more traditional manner since I could enjoy reading them for entertainment or I could choose to examine them more carefully on a deeper level, if I was in the mood.One of my favorite fairy tales is that of the brothers turned into swans and of their sister who must make them shirts out of nettles to turn them back into humans. A few of the authors chose this fairy tale to base their own stories on and I particularly enjoyed Halfway People by Karen Joy Fowler, which tells the story of a lonely woman who falls in-love with the last brother, the one tragically left with a swan’s wing.In The Color Master by Aimee Bender, a group of designers famed for their ability of making clothing in the colors of natural elements, must create for the king’s daughter a dress in the color of the moon, which is followed by an order for a dress in the exact shade of the sky. The narrator of the story is struggling with the challenges of each assignment and their own insecurity about their ability to select the right colors for each dress, or to add the emotions needed to get the princess away from her incestuous father.The romantic in me loved Francesca Lia Block’s Psyche’s Dark Night which follows the story of Psych and Cupid who meet at an online match-making website but whose tenuous relationship is disrupted by the personal issues that each of them is hounded by.Neil Gaiman’s contribution, Orange, is narrated in a very unique style which tells the story of a young and spoiled girl who inadvertently uses some of the Day-Glo her mother had invented, mistaking it for self-tanning lotion, with dramatic results. Her sister tells of the events that followed, through the answers of a questionnaire.These four stories were my favorite in the collection though there were others that I enjoyed as well. Admittedly, there were probably more stories of the shock and awe variety that didn’t appeal to me at all, and several that I couldn’t bring myself to finish. But even in these instances I was still interested in reading the author’s blurb at the end of each story which described what the chosen fairy tale meant to them and why they selected it. In some instances I actually enjoyed reading these even more than the stories themselves.My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is a book that will appeal in particular to lovers of the original fairy tales, full of gleeful horror and gore, as well as to those who enjoy examining the tales for the themes and messages under the surface. But there is enough variety here that no matter what your fairy tale preferences are, you are sure to find something in the collection that you will enjoy.

  • Eve
    2019-05-14 22:03

    My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales Edited by Kate Bernheimer is the book I bought myself for Christmas. This volume is a treasure chest of the fantastic and strange, vaguely familiar stories from childhood remade. Not to mention that title - which would have made me pick up this book no matter what it was about. Lucky for me what lay inside was individually as unique as the title and accompanied with a short explanation of how they came to be written by each author.My favorite was "Catskin," by Kelly Link, who states that although she borrowed some elements from Donkeyskin and Rapunzel, she wanted to invent her "own fairy tale" about inhabiting a skin, literally and figuratively. There are orphans, a powerful witch, and many, many cats. "Since witches cannot have children in the usual way---their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses,...even witches wish to be mothers---the witch had acquired her children by other nmeans: she had stolen or bought them....One girl she had grown like a cyst, upon her thigh. Other children she had made out of things in her garden, or bits of trash that the cats brought her: aluminum foil with strings of chicken fat still crusted to it, broken television sets, cardboard boxes that the neighbors had thrown out."Another favorite is "The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert, the first story I read, which was in the middle of the book. Flipping through the table of contents, the title and the incongruous image it conjured beckoned to me. A version of The Little Mermaid, the story is told through the woman the prince marries instead of the mermaid. Set in a world where mermaids are common and treated no better than laboratory animals, this one was easily the most haunting of the stories I read. "Many mermaids washed up each year on the shore of Mudpuddle Beach, the ocean air too thick for them to breathe, slowly choking them as if they were swallowing, inch by inch, a magician's endless rope of handkerchiefs...often before they were even spotted by a fisherman or a yacht party, before they'd reach the sand castles abandoned on the beach, they'd breathe their last...."The story with the most memorable first line is "Hansel and Gretel" by Francine Prose: "Tacked to the wall of the barn that served as Lucia de Medici's studio were 144 photographs of the artist having sex with her cat."While there are multiple variations of the same fairy tales like The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Bluebeard, and Rumpelstilskin, I found that quite a few of the authors were surprisingly fixated on The Wild Swans: in particular, the youngest brother in the original fairy tale who does not quite fully transform back into a human, but instead is left with one swan wing.I was introduced to some not so well known fairy tales like The Erlking, The Snow Maiden, as well as some from Mexico, Italy, and Japan. Some stories deviated so far from the original in style and tone that they didn't quite work for me. Too stylized, too literary, and not enough magic. Overall, however, I was delighted with this new addition to my fairy tale collection, which auspiciously enough, is dedicated to Angela Carter.Oh, and the title comes from Alissa Nutting's retelling of The Juniper Tree, "The Brother and the Bird," and yes, it does describe exactly what happens in the plot.

  • Christina Wilder
    2019-04-22 23:01

    ...Wow. That's all I can really think to say at this point.Like most people, I love fairy tales. They're profound, grotesque, heartbreaking, hilarious, and have been proven themselves to be memorable as they're ingrained in popular culture. The stories in this book are either retellings of popular fairy tales, or they are original stories inspired by fairy tales. It's hard for me to pick favorites, but here's my list:- With Hair of Hand-Spun Gold by Neil Labute - a brutal treasure- The Erkling by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum - so much strange dread in such a short story- Dapplegrim by Brian Evenson - wonderful metaphor for rage and (this might be my personal bias) mental illness- In the Tree by Timothy Schaffert - unexpected, and so dark- Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay by Jim Shepard - this story got me, and got me good...I felt for the protagonist and connected to him so much that the story was hard to read and yet I was sorry to see it end- Blue-Beareded Lover by Joyce Carol Oates - an interesting look at the Bluebeard fable, which is one of my favorites- Bluebeard in Ireland by John Updike - another story that hit close to home...hopeful and sad- A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility by Stacey Richter - a brilliant way to tell a fairy tale, through medical notes- Orange by Neil Gaiman - I'd only seen this method once before, a story told through answers without revealing the questions, and it works so well here- Psyche's Dark Night by Francesca Lia Block - a clever retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. Block does a fantastic job of portraying paranoia in a new relationship- The Story of the Mosquito by Lily Hoang - stories about greed always sadden me- Ever After by Kim Addonizio - devastating and so real- Whitework by Kate Bernheimer - I tend to enjoy stories in which I'm unsure of what's happening, ones that leave me unsure even after I've read them. So strange and alluring.You might have different favorites after reading this book, and that's fine. There are a few stories in here that didn't really do it for me, but I'll say this: I'm going to read more of every single author featured in this collection, and that has never happened to me before. Usually I'm able to cherry pick my favorites and discard those that didn't resonate, but I saw something in each of these stories that left me wanting more.

  • Renee
    2019-05-01 01:03

    With collections of short stories, it is always hard to give stars - some inevitably deserve 5 and some...So, those that deserve 5 stars (or more), in my humble (or not so humble) opinion:"Orange" by Neil Gaiman"The Color Master" by Aimee Bender"The Story of the Mosquito" by Lily Hoang"Ardour" by Jonathon Keats"Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian"The First Day" of Snow by Naoko Awa2 that were good but disturbing:"The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert"The Brother and the Bird" by Alissa NuttingThere were others that I enjoyed a lot at the time, but started to fade from memory almost as soon as I read them. I will refrain from naming those that I disliked. I will say that while some stories disturbed me, the main thing that caused me annoyance was the lack of "fairy" in many of the re-told tales. So many authors chose to wring the life out of fairy tales by setting them in regular ol' places with regular ol' people dealing with regular ol' things. Yeah, they were more credible, but I don't really read fairy tales for realism. Some were so far removed from the original fairy tales that I could not place their origins until the explanation given at the end of the story (to be fair though, one that I did not pick up on is listed among my favorites, so I can't gripe too much about this factor).Finally, I wonder how Kim Addonizio was able to use the names of the Disney seven dwarfs for her story "Ever After." The story may be public domain, but Happy, Doc, Bashful, etc. are all under copyright. Does this fall under the same guidelines that protect individuals who parody the works of others? Just something that went through my mind at the time...

  • Renee
    2019-04-30 02:06

    I found this an uneven collection. I suppose I carry Terri Windling's The Armless Maiden as my template for updated fairy tales, so the bar is set high. Some of the stories bordered on nonsensical as authors tried to recreate the tone of fairy tales by just stringing together strange events as paltry vestments, lacking then the cultural mores and lessons that give traditional stories their real meat. Other stories seemed like ersatz versions of the originals--adding or subtracting nothing. There were some gems; stories that took a fresh look at the cultural mores behind the stories, like Alissa Nutting's The Brother and the Bird, or Katherine Vaz's What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body is Gone. Other writers used a modern way of writing stories, including dialogue and a certain way of description that was uncommon in fairy tales, but used the stories as a launching point for a great story, like Kim Addonizio's Ever After and my favorite of the bunch, Aimee Bender's The Color Master. Also fine stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Jim Shepard and John Updike, although, with the exception of Oates' story, they seem like stories that we written before this book was conceived, so when asked to contribute the authors were like, "Uh... hmm... yeah, I guess this story could count as a fairy tale."

  • Megan Elizabeth
    2019-04-20 19:59

    I love fairy tale retellings. But the anthology as a whole was underwhelming. Some of the stories were enjoyable. Many were boring. And a lot of the author notes were extremely pretentious. I just felt like the authors didn't really do anything new. It was pretty much like when artists take Disney princesses and use them in their work to highlight different social issues. I understand the importance of the issues and appreciate what the artist is doing, but I've seen it all before. Pretty much every story was the same old recipe. Take a fairy tale that's already pretty dark to begin with and add the following: a few sex scenes, some gratuitous references to human anatomy, drug addiction, and violence.

  • M Christopher
    2019-05-11 21:56

    I must confess that I "finished" this book yesterday largely by reading about the first page of the stories in the remaining half of the book and deciding "not." While the literary excellence of nearly all of them was and is clear to me, I simply wasn't in the mood for the high level of creepiness of nearly all of them. Too dark for me right now. Sorry.

  • Deborah Harkness
    2019-05-12 19:59

    a luminous, thought-provoking collection of modern fairy tales that will remind grownups of how wonderfully unsettling the genre is.

  • Karen
    2019-04-30 22:59

    Kate Bernheimer assembles a collection of chiefly new stories, all that draw directly or indirectly on a traditional fairy tale. We see in the table of contents the inspiration for each story. It took me over two months to read it, and now I'm a bit sad to be done. Heck, I may reread all the ones that earned an A from me. The collection offers an array of approaches: some offer short tales of two pages or so, some write for 20+ pages. Some tales are quite like fairy tales in that the characters are somewhat flat and their fate delivers a clear moral. Others complicate their characters with mixed motives and layers of intention, which muddy them to the point where they mimic mere mortals you'd meet in line at the post office. These are the tales that I like the best, whether they are set in a modern context or left in a castle, a forest or a seaside evocative of an old tale. Some are quite experimental in form (which I dislike). I really prefer character-driven stories over those that get into a cerebral space when the author is tinkering a great deal with form. Here are my notes on the stories I've read with letter grades showing my degree of affection. NOTE: Some of my comments contain mild spoilers, more by revealing theme than by revealing plot. But read at your own risk. (B+) Joy Williams' "Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child" moves a Russian tale to the Florida marshlands and depict a horrifying conflict between nature and science. (B) Jonathan Keats' "Ardour" keeps things traditional by retelling "The Snow Maiden," but he switches up the ending so that I had to think about the implications for mother nature and human nature. (B) Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's "I'm Here" mixes up a couple of old tales when she depicts an older woman confronting change and decay. Think of "Trip to Bountiful" with a fairy tale twist. Because I am a new gerontology student and nearing 50, I liked the themes/ images/ characters in this one. (B) Alissa Nutting's "The Brother and the Bird" provides the book's title with her story of family dysfunction forged with the same magic and horror of Grimm's "The Juniper Tree" fairy tales. (A) Francine Prose's "Hansel and Gretel" has only faint connections with the source tale. On its own, this story does a great job tracing a new bride's horror at slowly realizing that her husband is not collaborating with her against a manacing, mature artist (a crone, here a symbol of chaos, decay and destitution). Instead he is conspiring with the crone to rob his bride of her expectations that marriage will bring her order, security, and abundance. But it's more subtley told than this. It's a contemporary coming-of-age tale with strong fairy tale allusions.(D) Kevin Brockmeier's "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin" was very experimental, and I didn't finish it. I felt as though the author was spending more time demonstrating how clever he is and not enough timing meeting the readers' needs. (C) Neil LaBute's "With Hair of Hand-spun Gold" reminds me of his play Medea Redux, but this time the genders are switched, and the student is a little man who has Rumplestiltskin qualities. It's like other LeBute works in the way it shows great manipulation and coldness in human relationships. Eerie.(B) Shelley Jackson's "The Swan Brothers" sets her story in an art gallery. She actually does experiment with form by employing post-modern techniques of multiple versions within one work. I wanted to dislike it, but I found myself hypnotized by the merry-go-round of recurring themes, images, and characters. They contort with each passing in ways that made me consider the significance of what changed and what stayed the same. Being familiar with the source tale helped me stick with it.(D) Joyelle McSweeney's "The Warm Mouth" retells the Bremen Town Musicians, but she personifies a bunch of modern items and people (well, a corpse) found in a skid row setting, and my mind and heart couldn't connect, even though my eye passed over every word of her story. (A) Lydia Millet's "Snow White, Rose Red" actually reminded me more of a modern, fractured version of "The Three Bears" more than it did of the source tale of the same name as her story. Set in the wood in a vacation home of an ultra-rich family, an outsider sets in motion a number of dramatic changes, and we are left to ask questions about who is good/evil and if the changes were good/evil. (B+) Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's "The Erlking" writes a Stephen-King like horror story about the inability parents have to protect their kids from dark forces. Set at a school fair in contemporary times, the building tension makes it easy for readers to imagine their child falling prey to such seduction.(C) Brian Evenson's "Dapplegrim" retains the allegorical nature of many old tales. It's filled with the grisly detail Evenson often employs. (B+) Michael Cunningham's "The Wild Swan" is a very brief retelling that drops the brothers into a modern setting. But in a short space, he made me compassionate towards the social outcasts of our day by casting them as disfigured royals. There's truth to that, I believe. (A) Karen Joy Fowler "The Halfway People" has an old tale feel, but she fleshes out her protagonist quite nicely, and she depicts several people caught between two worlds, between two states of being. I think she taps into the feeling many experience, "I'm a misfit." However, she helps some of them find a way to accept this and move on or settle in. A useful fiction.(C-) Rikki Ducornet's "Green Air" plays with images from "The Little Match Girl" in a way that is dark and bizarre. I didn't like it.(B+) Timothy Schaffert's "The Mermaid in the Tree" creates a somewhat sci-fi fantasy setting for HC Anderson's tale. The author claims she's focusing on the woman who gets the prince after the mermaid is rejected, but she's lying. This version focuses on the prince. I was captivated by the way the prince's passion and pain transforms him. (A) Katherine Vaz' "What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body Is Gone" is a marvelous retelling of "The Little Mermaid." Here we meet Meredith, married to Ray and disovering herself unable to articulate her love for him. The tale grows complex and poignant. She gets into the pain and complexities of long-term relationships going sour. She has some fantastical images, but her characterization is quite realistic. (B+) Karen Brennan's "The Snow Queen" portays an older woman, questing through the cityscape, trying to find her drug addicted son -- and herself. It borrows themes and images from the fairytale, but it can pass as a contemporary tale. (B) Lucy Corin's "Eyes of Dogs" offers a cautionary tale to young men who pursue wealth and fame without paying homage to older, feminine forces. I kept thinking of Pushkin's short story "Queen of Spades" while reading this. (C) Ilya Kaminsky's "Little Pot" sets the original in a food-scarce Russian setting. (D) Michael Martone's "A Bucket of Warm Spit" employs a staccatto-style to tell a story about . . . something. About a famine? A praire? A boy named Jack? It was very hard to read.(B+) Kelly Link's "Catskin" was a mesmerizing tale of a witch, her children, and the cats that they are or were or would soon become. It was wacky, but the tension among the characters rang true even amid the fantastical details. (B) Chris Adrian's "Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" sets an old trope in a cityscape with hand-held electronics, showing us that death still holds sway in the digital age. (B+) Jim Shephard's "Pleasure Boating on Lituya Bay" employs some very strong images that magnify the conflict in the main character's marriage. Set in Alaska, this story shows what mischief can happen when a man meets a maiden, fortune and death on the road, except this is all metaphorical in the modern tale. (A) Kathryn Davis' "Body-without-Soul" plays with time, but in a way that doesn't distort character, plot or image too far. It shimmers in a way that haunted me for a long time. Lovely!(C) Kellie Wells' "The Girl, the Wolf, The Crone" takes the elements of "Little Red Riding Hood" and pushes them through a salad shooter. It was experimental and interesting on that level. I wanted to like it because the original is the fairytale that most resonated with me when I was a child, but it was just way too contorted for me. Maybe if she had messed with the original 20% and not 80% I would have bought it. (B+) Sabrina Orah Mark's "My Brother Gary Made a Move and This Is What Happened" is short, sweet and just a bit wacked. Bonus points to Marks for working a second fairytale into the comments section. (A) Aimee Bender's "The Color Master" takes an unnamed character from Perrault's "Donkeyskin" and creates a new tale. The three dresses in Donkeyskin get much attention in the original, but Bender fleshes out the artist who creates these dresses. At once magical and believable. WTG, Aimee.(B) Marjorie Sandor's "The White Cat" does a great job in just a few paragraphs in depicting the power, perversity and persuasiveness of longing. And I'm not just saying that because the alliteration compelled me. (B+) Joyce Carol Oates' "Blue-bearded Lover" imagines a bride who outwits Blue beard. I can't decide if she's clever or just conquered in a different way. A thought-provoking take on the battle of the sexes.(B+) John Updike's "Bluebeard in Ireland" imagines the doomed bride in Ireland. Told from the point of view of her older, thrice-married husband, Updike chronicles the bickering, cut-throat compromises and other cheery elements of modern relationships typical of his style /themes. (B-) Rabih Alameddine's "A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper" offers a grotesque and gritty allegory of sterility and funcundity, based on Sleeping Beauty. (B) Stacey Richter's "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility" satirizes a set of academic papers she found that scholars wrote in observation of drug addicts. Here, Cinderella goes psychodelic, but it's the staff and scholars--and not the patients--who prove to be most fascinating characters because of their reactions. (B-) Neil Gaman's "Orange" was more science fiction than fairttale for me, and I couldn't see the connection to the Odyssey. Maybe I need to reread Homer and look for sun imagery. (B+) Francesca Lia Block's "Psyche's Dark Night" places Psyche and Cupid in a modern setting, depicting the emotional wasteland of late adult urban dating. (A) Lily Hoang's "The Story of the Misquito" is a retelling of a Vietnamese tale that the author can't confirm with a source text, which makes it all the richer because it's entangled in her own memories. It's a myth about the origin of the misquito and a cautionary tale about one of the many ways marriage can go wrong. (B) Noako Awa's "First Day of Snow" is a short tale about a child being drawn into the woods by a supernatural bunny. It draws on several themes and images from traditional tales, so says the author in the afterward. (B-) Hiromi Ito's "I am Anjuhimeko" takes a traditional tale of lost siblings and conveys several incarnations. I need to reread this with more patience. I found it too detailed and too long, so I resorted to skimming the back half. (B-) Michael Mejia's "Coyote Takes Us Home" is a tale that relies heavily on images. It's nearly a verbal collage. It conveys the struggles of border people, using some elements of coyote tales to connect them, but also playing on the concept of "coyote" as a smuggler of illegals. Heartbreaking and gritty, real and unreal. My low "grade" is probably due more to my recoiling from the horror of the topic than a harsh judgement of the challenging style. (B) Kim Addonizio's "Ever After" imagines the seven dwarves in a contemporary setting. Inspired by a partial text of Snow White, they struggle while waiting to see whether or not this woman of their dreams will arrive. (B) Kate Bernheimer's "Whitework" transforms a tale by Poe but keeps the same mood. The narrator describes a visit to a cottage that has a number of ornate features, which leads the narrator to the work of decoding the features, analyzing the visit and examining the nature of perception.

  • Marika
    2019-05-11 18:55

    I'm going to review as I go. And I expect I will be easily side tracked to read the original tale when I don't already know it. So this might take awhile, but hopefully it will be a fun project.Intro by Gregory Maguire wholly entertaining. I particularly love the way it refreshed my memory of all the obvious and less than obvious fairy tales I have encountered over time.Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child 5 stars. Great "never saw that coming" twist. And the author's comments on her inspiration are so interesting. The dog is too cute. I have met Baba Iaga and her chicken leg house in another author's borrowing, but where...?Ardour 3 stars. Good, not great. It had a great fairy tale, ethereal quality to the setting and the telling. I just didn't get pulled in as much. Perhaps that's because I'm not familiar with "The Snow Maiden", and so I missed on any referential clues. Side tracked already ....I'm Here 5 stars. Startling, just bizarre enough. Was originally 3 stars, but a reread pulled everything together. I want to read more by this author.Juniper Tree 2 stars. Went at this in different order. I read the original Grimm before reading the new take. Maybe not a good approach? With the original so fresh in my mind, I spent entire reading doing a point by point compare. And they were SO much the same. More a copy than an inspiration.Hansel and Gretel 1 star. No plot, no interesting characters, no fairy tale. Just three characters with the barest resemblance of the original three....Half of Rumpelstiltskin 4 stars. Quirky, slightly creepy "whatever happened to..." story. Sprinkled with amusing wordplay. Author's comments added a lot.With Hair of Hand Spun Gold 3 stars. Another "whatever happened to" Rumpelstiltskin. Great twist on a tabloid-fodder scenario. But I didn't like the style. The voice of the speaker was off for me.The Swan Brothers 2 stars. Changing my mind. I think it is good to read original first. It helped here. Unfortunately, I needed author's notes to understand story. A good story shouldn't need to be explained.The Warm Mouth 0 stars. Too weird.Snow White, Rose Red 5 stars. Not sure how much this related to the original tale, but a great story.The Erlking 4 stars. Loved discovering the original. This was a great modernization of plot and character, playing on our current fears of child predators around every corner. Super ambiguous end.Dapplegrim 1 star. Just a retelling. Nothing new added to the mix. "Don't blame me. It was my dark side, I couldn't help myself". Whatever.The Wild Swans 2 stars. Not a story really, interesting start to one, but that's all. Needs more.The Halfway People 5 stars. Beautiful. Foundation from the original, but the story was all new. Wonderful to read. I am a sucker for the story in a story format.Green Air 0 stars. Couldn't even finish it.The Mermaid in the Tree 3 stars. Part satire, part creepy dream that stays with you when you wake up.What the Conch Shell...1 star. Only skimmed it. Could have been good, but felt too distant from the characters.The Snow Queen 0 stars. I didn't get it...Eyes of Dogs 3 stars. I liked the side-by-side alternate ending. Modern day ending was bleak, but real. So does that make it NOT a fairy tale?Little Pot 1 star. Didn't really get the second story.A Bucket of Warm Spit 3 stars. Jack and the Beanstalk in the dustbowl. Neat idea, cool delivery. But again, didn't get it. What was the ending?Catskin 3 stars. Started out with a nice mix of modern and old, but seemed to get a little carried away with itself. Too many skinnings, too many cats.Teague O'Kane and the Corpse 4 stars. I am not and was not familiar with Yeats original, but I would guess this is a fairly true retelling. So maybe it is not so creative ... but read with no preconceptions, I thought it was a good story. Was just missing a bit of the "why" Teague was given his task, and why it was what it was.Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay 4 stars. Not really sure of the fairy tale aspect, but a good introspective story.Body-Without-Soul 2 stars. Seems like it had potential, but just fizzled out. Another "I didn't get it" moment.The Girl, The Wolf, The Crone 5 stars. Take Little Red Riding Hood and turn it (literally) inside out, add blood and body of Christ communion to resurrect the Bad Wolf, mix in wonderful vocabulary and fairy tale self awareness. What's not to like?My Brother Gary Made a Movie...1 star. The story in the author's note was beautiful. That should have been the story...The Color Master 5 stars. Effortless. A beautiful story, told simply. No gimmicks, no tricks, a beginning and an end. A context. It glowed like the dresses they made.The White Cat 5 stars + 1. A love letter and a theory on why we love fairy tales. Juxtaposes our everyday with the magic that is there if we are brave enough to reach for it. Then the author's note ... I cried.Bliue Bearded Lover 4 stars. Hunh. Creative survival? Or devious meets evil? jCO says the second. I kinda think it's the first and give the bride a pass.Bluebeard in Ireland 4 stars. Didn't notice the author until two pages in and was amazed at the language and instant immersion. John Updike. Ok, yup, pretty good writer. And very good story, but I would recommend read postscript first. A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper 1 star. Only because it wasn't so bad that I quit. As a story, lame and incomplete. And just a sleeping beauty ripoff--no creative twist.A Case Study of... 2 stars. Others might enjoy it more. I wasn't familiar with the form it was parodying.Orange 4.5 stars. Great story, of course. And presented as a game or a puzzle to be solved. Genius! Had to dock half a star because I didn't see a clear fairy tale link, and didn't want anyone to think I am playing favorites.Cupid and Psyche 2 stars. I got the inspiration, but it was a little lame. Not much imagination in the references to the original. Didn't like either character. Maybe you weren't supposed to? The Story of the Mosquito 4 stars. Short, classical. From author's notes, more of a telling of a lost fable than a reworking. Just the right tone and pace for an old-fashioned tale.First Day of Snow 4 stars. Again. Simple wonderful classic story based in unfamiliar (to me) culture. Loved the abrupt happy ending.I Am Anjuhimeko 3 stars. Strong fairytale feel, of the Grimm variety. But I got a bit lost 3/4ths of the way through.Coyote Takes Us Home 2 stars. I recommend reading the author's notes first. Full of imagery and symbolism. But I think a great deal was lost on me not being familiar with the culture and the language.Ever After 4 stars. Love the idea of 7 dwarves living and working together in SoHo, waiting for their Snow White to come and save them. A total upending of the Cinderella construct. And a very 21st century ending -- realization that no one is going to save you except yourself.Whitework 1 star. The star is for getting me to read Poe's original story. Too much word-for-word ...

  • Oria
    2019-05-08 18:10

    Forty new fairy tales, and the list on the front cover gave the names of Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Joy Williams, and Francine Prose, to name just a few. Oh, the sweet anticipation such a book can bring! I looked at it lovingly, relishing in knowing I had more than five hundred pages filled with magical stories. I should probably state right now I enjoyed most of the stories in the book but not all. A couple of them I didn’t finish. There was something about the setting, or in some cases the wording, that just didn’t resonate with me. Some authors blended fairy tales with present day reality and in some cases I found the result awkward. Others succeeded in creating that seamless fantastical story that stemmed from something old and grew into something interesting. And on some of the stories I may have missed out simply because I wasn’t familiar with the fairy tale and felt like this was an impediment in enjoying the story.What I liked were the explanations written by the authors at the end of each story – what fairy tale their story was based on and what inspired them to write it the way they did. The stories I did like, however, were truly beautiful, and here are the best:Baba Yaga and the Pelican Child, by Joy WilliamsThis was quite interesting, because I’ve come across a few Baba Yaga tales not long ago, in the Penguin Classics “Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov”, and while I didn’t finish that book, I read enough variants of it to make the whole story familiar. This version describes the house in the woods where Baba Yaga, her pelican child, a cat and a dog live together peacefully, until one day a stranger arrives and changes everything. He brings them sorrow, but fear not, the story doesn’t slide all the way into gloom; it also has a funny side and a more philosophical one. I loved it for the lesson it teaches and for this passage:“After this, Baba Yaga continued to fly through the skies in her mortar, navigating with her pestle. But instead of a broom, she carried the lamp that illuminated the things people did not know or were reluctant or refused to understand. And she would lower the lamp over a person and they would see how extraordinary were the birds and the beasts of the world, and that they should be valued for their bright and beautiful and mysterious selves and not willfully harmed for they were more precious than castles or the golden rocks dug out from the earth.”I’m Here, by Ludmilla PetrushevskayaOlga is a woman over forty who feels emotionally abandoned by her family and friends. In her attempt to recover a semblance of usefulness, she goes back to the house of her landlady, where she used to live many years ago. What she finds there, and the dialogue that follows gives the impression that something very strange is going on. The interpretation of the ending is up to the reader – because reality and imagination go hand in hand, it’s a bit difficult to choose a straight answer. A bit like the movie “The Life of Pi” - what was real and what wasn’t?I liked it for the unexpected twist and also for this:‘Baba Anya, I came out here thinking this might be the last refuge for me.’‘There’s no such refuge for anyone on earth’, Baba Anya said. ‘Every soul is its own last refuge.’The Brother and the Bird, by Alissa NuttingThis is a truly creepy story of a weird family manipulated by an evil woman. There’s also a juniper tree, a murder and a disturbing dream. This is the story that gives the name to the book:‘My mother, she killed me’, the voice sang. ‘My father, he ate me. My sister, she saved my bones….’Hansel and Gretel, by Francine ProseThe way this story starts made me feel curious and repelled at the same time. Curiosity won, so I kept reading. Hansel and Gretel (or Polly and Nelson) are newly married and visiting one of Nelson’s friends, an Italian artist named Lucia. She’s the mother of his former girlfriend, “the love of his life”, whom Nelson hasn’t seen in years. This makes for some awkward conversation amplified by the out-of-place behavior between Nelson and Lucia. Years later, when Polly comes back to the place for a visit, she is reminded of the whole experience and gathers a new understanding of what it means to be young and foolish.‘At that time, I often did things because they seemed like a good idea, and I often did very important things for lack of a reason not to.’A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin, by Kevin BrockmeierTold from the narrator’s point of view, this was one very unusual and entertaining story. Half of Rumpelstiltskin is just that, half of somebody, and the way the story unfolds, you’d think this is the most natural thing in the world. Half of Rumpelstiltskin also has a job, goes out just like everybody else and has to face comments regarding his appearance.“In the shower, Half of Rumpelstiltskin scours himself with a bar of marbled green soap, a washcloth, and – for the skin of his extremities, as stubborn and scabrous as bark – a horsehair scrub brush. He lathers. He rinses. He dries himself with a plush cotton towel, sousing the water from his pancreas and his ligaments and the spongy marrow in the cavity of his sternum. Half of Rumpelstiltskin is the only man he knows whose forearm is a hard-to-reach place.”The Color Master, by Aimee Bender This is one lovely story which combines colors and textures into a beautiful re-telling of a fairy-tale in which a king wants to marry his own daughter. To celebrate the wedding, he asks for unusual clothes for the future bride – a dress the color of the moon, another, the color of the sun. These are not so easy to make, and the whole process is described – the selection of colors, the dying of the fabric, all supervised by the Color Master whose health is faltering. But there are other ingredients that go into these special clothes.“Remember, the Color Master said. She sat up, in bed. I keep forgetting, she said, but the King wants to Marry his Daughter, she said. Her voice pointed to each word, hard. That is not right, she said, okay? Got it? Put anger in the dress. Righteous anger. Do you hear me?”Blue-bearded Lover, by Joyce Carol OatesA very short but intense story, whose mystery pulled me in from the first sentence. There’s a poetry to the language, and a darkness in its words. Will the young wife open the door? Will she die like the others before her?A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper, by Rabih AlameddineA young girl on the brink of womanhood, sickness and sexuality are brought together in this story – a combination that works well to create a hybrid that serves not only to remind of the old fairy tale but to give it a twist that is truly modern and unexpected.“He seemed surprised at the lack of a response. I wanted to tell him that it was not his fault, that she had not wakened, had not moved, in a hundred years. I wanted only to save him time, to protect him from frustration. I wanted to tell him she was not the one for him, not at all. But he bent his golden torso and smelled her, inhaled deeply, and I almost fainted.”Read in April-May, 2014

  • nicole
    2019-05-05 01:05

    Depending on what day and story you caught me, I either loved this anthology or absolutely hated it. I planned to make a list of the stories I preferred best, but so much time has passed that I would rather spend those extra few minutes reading. I will know to turn to this anthology whenever wanting to read that story of mermaids that I really like, or to read my favorite short story -- Pleasure Boating in Lithuya Bay, or to remember the stories about the juniper tree and the wild swans. I'll also remembered the eye rolls I spent flipping through some impossible to read stories that shall remain nameless. I guess I shouldn't be surprised I preferred the stories by authors I already knew I loved -- Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Neil Gaiman -- to some of the others, but I still was. That sort of surprise is always my reader's delight, when you can learn an author and return to them again and again, never receiving the same gift twice, but always leaving satisfied. I turned to fairy tales -- dark fairy tales -- in all corners of my life during this read. I am watching A Series of Unfortunate Events with my classes through testing, which I feel is a very dark and modern take on fairy tales (go ahead, argue me like my sixth graders -- absence of parents, precious children, evil adults, having to outsmart those in charge of you) There is one part I liked watching over and over with the kids. like observing that moment where my students get it. Violet and Klaus find the inheritance law book, then the train schedule, then we see the train in the distance and all of a sudden the whole vibe in the room would shift. I loved watching that click over and over again. And my penchant for dark movies extended to more adult ones as well, as I watched Black Swan for the first time. I was totally terrified of watching it - it's not the sort of thing I could handle in a movie theater, as I can't even really bring myself to watch scary movie trailers. I found myself getting really into it. Not only was it one of the best executed movies I've ever seen, it serendipitously fit into everything else that was going on in my pop culture life. And this dark theme found it's way into my morning commute soundtracks, as I listened to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy every day for over a week. I found I could only listen to it in the morning or at the beginning of a journey -- only when I was going somewhere, never when I was returning from one. The anthology seemed to tie together all of these little things that would have seemed like isolated incidents without this point to fix them. I like how longer reads can extend themselves into this sort of mood, like how reading Justin Cronin's The Passage will forever cement in time the first few weeks I moved into the back bedroom of my apartment that I didn't know how I was going to afford the rent for as my hours at the library remained reduced.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-14 00:04

    This was a book I had to force myself to finish. I hate to let a book defeat me, and that's how I felt trying to get through the more than 500 pages in Bernheimer's collection. The premise of the book is 40 new fairy tales by well-known, contemporary authors. Unfortunately, I wasn't sold. I LOVE fairy tales, and always have, but these stories mostly just bored me. To give a couple of examples:"Bluebeard in Ireland" is the story of a couple on vacation in Ireland. He's older, and has been married numerous times before and she's he most recent, and much younger, wife. The two of them bicker throughout almost the entire story. She doesn't like the way he drives; he worries that she's attracted to the hotel clerk; she doesn't like the same sites he does; he's irked that she's not wearing the right shoes. It just goes on and on like that. I have to admit, I want magic in my fairy tales. There was no magic in this story. I was simply bored as I read it.Other stories seemed to me to be too "preachy". They had a lesson to teach and were going to hit the reader over the head with this message in case we're too stupid to get it. There were the stories that were trying to get me to realize how unrealistic traditional fairy tales were - well, duh.There were a couple of stories that I liked though. One, set in Vietnam, is about how mosquitoes came to exist and is the story of a grasping, greedy woman and her virtuous and loving husband. That is my idea of a fairy tale. I know, I know. The purists among you will point out that this is closer to a myth than it is a fairy tale, but there is a magical fairy in the story, so I'm fine with that.After finishing the book, I'm glad I read it, and I can see how it could be useful in my classes (I'm always looking for new material for my students) but I'm even more glad that I'm finished it. It can now go back on my shelf and I can move onto something else; hopefully something that I enjoy more.

  • Max Nemtsov
    2019-05-17 00:02

    Некоторые читают все как научную (околонаучную, псевдонаучную, вовсененаучную) фантастику. У меня тоже есть своя маленькая аберрация - я все читаю (и смотрю, если уж на то пошло) как сказки. Не то чтобы в детстве мне их не хватало... но, видимо, не хватало. Теперь понятно, что с возрастом и читательским опытом приходит та умудренность, которая позволяет наслаждаться даже самыми вроде бы простыми сказками - вычитывать из них тайные смыслы, сканировать аллюзии и отсылки, бродить по всяким расходящимся тропкам. Составители этой антологии правы - со сказок все и начинается, они подстрекают к чтению (смотрению, писанию, чему угодно). Я очень рад, что получилось поработать с этой книжкой как переводчику и редактору переводов. Это еще одно расширение и приращение сказочной вселенной.

  • Bondama
    2019-05-13 00:24

    I'm not through with this book yet, but so far, this has to be one of the most imaginative books I've read in literally, years!!It's a collection of "new" Fairy Tales, but such widely diverse authors as Neil Gaiman, Neil LaBute, and Joyce Carol Oates --- absolutely fascinating!!Just one quick note, after finishing this delightful collection -- Read it, there's at least one story, or play on a "fairy tale" that you'll never forget!~

  • Codie
    2019-04-22 01:06

    I really wanted to like this anthology, but it just felt a little too--"grimdark," sort of edgy-for-the-sake-of-edgy. Some of the stories were really great (A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin, The Mermaid in the Tree, What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body Is Gone, Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay, The Color Master, The White Cat, Blue-Bearded Lover, Psyche's Dark Night--and the Color Master is by far the best of all of these), but the bad stories were really, really bad. I have very rarely wanted to put a book down so much it physically pains me, but my jaw still hurts from clenching it during "A Bucket of Warm Spit." I get that the author was Trying Something but oh boy does it make me want to shake him. And "I Am Anjuhimeko" clearly loses something in translation, because the English version is mess. "Coyote Takes Us Home" is also very sloppy and difficult to understand, but I'm a little sensitive to that subject because of my recent read of Tell Me How It Ends. It just felt like there was a lot of sexual violence in these stories. And I get it, I really do, that fairy tales contain a lot of that as a theme, but it just felt egregious here. We had rape and molestation and frankly nasty sexual imagery over and over and over again until it almost blurred the stories into one another. I don't regret reading books often, but I'm going to be glad to wash my hands of this collection.

  • Nazia Shafik
    2019-04-28 18:18

    I had high hopes for this book. To be honest there was potential but it was a let down for me. I skipped through some stories as they bored me and I just wanted to get it over and done with.

  • Nutkin
    2019-05-01 19:19

    I wanted to love this, but with the exception of a few stories, I was indifferent towards it. (A couple of stories I enjoyed and a couple I sincerely disliked.)

  • Catherine
    2019-04-25 02:02

    Some of the stories in this collection I loved, some were okay, and a few I couldn't bother to finish. My favorites were:"Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child" by Joy Williams -- with a very disturbing inclusion of John James Audubon as the villain. "The Brother and the Bird" by Alissa Nutting -- from which the collection title is taken."Snow White, Rose Red" by Lydia Millet -- told from the p.o.v. of the "bear.""Dapplegrim" by Brian Evenson -- bloody, but fascinating"Halfway People" by Karen Joy Fowler -- a variation on "The Wild Swans" occurring after the end of the original story."The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert -- apparently a book-within-a-book from one of his novels, which makes me want to read the novel."What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body is Gone" by Katherine Vaz -- a very unusual take on "The Little Mermaid""Eyes of Dogs" by Lucy Corin -- modern take on "The Tinder Box" with side-by-side versions."Catskin" by Kelly Link -- a witch's revenge, carried out by her favorite child."Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian -- I saw the end coming, but it was a fascinating ride."The Color Master" by Aimee Bender -- backstory of another fairy tale, explaining how (and by who) garments the color of moon, sun & sky are made."A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper" by Rabih Alameddine -- Sleeping Beauty's tale told from the p.o.v. of an unseen observer. "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility" by Stacey Richter -- proves that a crazy, modern fairy tale (with a little crystal meth thrown in) told in a clinical manner is hilarious."Psyche's Dark Night" by Francesca Lia Block -- if Psyche and Cupid met online..."The Story of the Mosquito" by Lily Hoang -- a Vietnamese tale with universal truths, as pointed out in the narrative."The First Day of Snow" by Naoko Awa -- rabbits who bring snow and steal children..."Ever After" by Kim Addonizio -- "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" turned into a cult for little people.

  • Rebecca Angel
    2019-04-26 00:22

    I know many people think fairy tales are dark and creepy if you get to the REAL ones. But I read that the Brother's Grimm "updated" their book several times, each time making it darker and darker because that's what people liked. NOT because it was authentic. And reading fairy tales from non-European sources shows a huge range of human condition, not just the kind that wants to kill and eat small children. Unfortunately, many of the authors of this short story collection went for the most disturbing tales to write about/rewrite/update. I forced myself to continue reading because it was for a book club. Of course, I could have just skipped around, but I worried I would miss that one awesome story stuck in the middle. So I read them all. Although as a whole, I did not like the book, here are the stories I DID like."I'm Here" was the first one I kind of liked. Interesting, if strange. And then I slogged through some more violence until "Snow White, Rose Red", which only hinted at pedophilia... My expectations were lowered for the kind of stories I usually enjoy, so I tried to just accept the creepy factor. "Dapplegrim" was disturbing, but cool. "Halfway People" is worth it. I can't stand the swan brothers story (which unfortunately was a favorite of several authors in here) but this inspiration derived tale was wonderful. I continued through too many pages, wondering if I would find another gem. And then "A Bucket of Warm Spit." It took me two pages to get into this story because the writing was so very different. And then I loved it. I felt an old woman on a front porch was telling me a wild story. I read several passages out loud to my kids because they were just begging to be spoken. Worth the book.And then more slogging until "The Color Master" which wasn't a fantastic story, but the concept was. It's from the point of view of one of the dressmakers in the Donkeyskin fairy tale. I don't know that tale, but it was referenced several times by authors here. Taking a character that doesn't even make an appearance, but must exist in a tale, and then writing THEIR tale, is great. I plan on using this concept for a creative writing class with children in the fall.And then came several stories close by that I really enjoyed. "A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper" wild and unexpected! "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility." Hilarious and a joy to read. "Orange." Original format, amusing tale. "Psyche's Dark Night." As a fan of these myths, I was automatically drawn to it. And I like romance... "First Day of Snow" was a Japanese tale that I've never heard before, but was really fascinating. And my absolute favorite came near the end. "Ever After" Again, worth the price of the book. What a beautiful, beautiful tale. Thank you Kim Addonizio for writing this. THIS was the reason I slogged through all the rest. Just to get to this story.

  • Karen Lucero
    2019-05-16 20:04

    I remember fairy tales being one of the most easiest narratives in the world to read on a surface level. When you grow up you learn of the story's origins, and something almost always changes.The "Forty New Fairy Tales" here are re-tellings and/or derivations of well-loved and obscure tales from childhood. Some story sources will have you looking up its origins online (the contents pages also mention which tale the story originated from), which is recommended. I loved most of the tales here. Standout stories for me were "The Brother and the Bird" by Alisa Nutting (from where the title of the collection came from), "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumplestiltskin" by Kevin Brockmeier (How does the other half live on?), "Halfway People" by Karen Joy Fowler (v. romantic ^^), "The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert (reminds me of Tim Burton), "Catskin" by Kelly Link , "The Color Master" by Aimee Bender (color descriptions make me swoon), "A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper" by Rabih Alameddine (saw this as a puberty tale, imo) , "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility" by Stacey Richter (funnily enough, reminds me of my nurse mother), "Orange" by Neil Gaiman (automatically! but also unexpected ^^), "Psyche's Dark Night" by Francesca Lia Block (fairy stories set in LA with a tinge of a high, I think), and "Ever Afer" by Kim Addonizio (which reminds me of the Fables comics).Unfortunately, Hiromi Ito's "I am Anjuhimeko" left me reeling with it's unbroken paragraphs and really solid blocks of text. I didn't know where one thought ends and the other begins, and there was no transition on who exactly was speaking or thinking at that moment. Maybe it was in the translation, I gave up on it at about 3 pages in. I felt bad about skipping Ito's story that I told myself to read everything else. But Michael Mejia's "Coyote Takes Us Home" came after Ms. Ito, and it was a challenge to read, mostly because I did not understand what was in it when I went through it the first time. It was very "stream of consciousness" on LSD, a hodge-podge of names, descriptions and images of Latino life and culture. I think I was near to finishing it, but I'm just not sure...But over-all, this is a solid book to get and include in your collection ^^