Updated Fairy Tales

My Mother She Killed Me,
My Father He Ate Me

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me
Edited by Kate Bernheimer

I first heard about this collection well over a year ago. The title was great, and it had selections from authors I’d been meaning to read for awhile (ahem, Neil Gaiman). I bought it shortly after, during one of my last visits to the Strand before I left New York. I started it back then, but mainly just flipped through it, picking out the stories that sounded interesting, leaving the rest for later.

Well. Later has finally come, and I’m kinda wishing it hadn’t. Turns out I read most of the good stories during my first go-round. A lot of the other ones felt like the author was trying to hard to evoke a theme, without really spinning a story. One of the great things about traditional fairy tales was they could be read on many levels – kids could get them, and adults could find elements to appreciate, too.

There were some very good selections. Amiee Bender’s “The Color Master” was excellent – an engaging story with a touch of magic and a sense of foreboding lingering in the background. Stacey Richter’s “A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility” probably wins the award for longest title, and is a fun tongue-in-cheek re-imagining of “Cinderella.”

Neil Gaiman’s story was good. It’s the tale of a girl whose sister turns into an orange monster, and it’s written in the form of the girl’s answers to some unknown questions of an unnamed interviewer. It definitely intrigued me enough to read more by him (I just picked up Neverwhere from the library today).

Honestly, though, it’s hard to judge the good stories on their own. Are they truly good? Or are the others so alike and so subpar that anything slightly original or interesting stands out like a shining beacon?

Advertisements

Two Mini Reviews

Today I’m bringing you two mini reviews with a couple similarities. Both were written by well respected female authors, and both are fantasy type fiction.

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber bookcover. Black background, white castle with girl hanging out and calling for help, surrounded by angry red waves
The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber contains ten reworkings of classic fairy tales, from Bluebeard and the Erl-King to Puss in Boots (somehow, I think the new animated film shares nothing but a title). My biggest complaint is that they seemed repetitive, especially with two versions of Beauty and the Beast told consecutively.

Carter fully embraces the violent, bloody, ribald nature of the original tales, but updates them with her own personal twists. They are certainly disturbing – I’d recommend only one a day, and not before going to sleep. Who knows what might show up in your dreams.

If you like the idea of reworked fairy tales, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (affiliate link), is certainly worth picking up. I bought it this past year and read several of the stories, but haven’t completed the whole book. There are selections from writers including Neil Gaiman and Joyce Carol Oates.

Dragonflight

Dragonflight
Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey was an early female science fiction/fantasy writer known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. I was never really a science fiction fan, and had never read her work. Ms. McCaffrey passed away in November, and I saw several authors writing tributes to her. It made me think I should try one of her books.

Unfortunately, Dragonflight  was not for me. The general idea was interesting – people living on outlying planets, then forgotten about, trying to make it on their own. Oh, and they hang out with dragons. That’s cool.

The downside? The pacing seemed off, and there were some serious plot holes. And I almost forgot – the whole “let me continually rape someone until they fall in love with me” story line. Ick, ick, ick.

So many pioneering women fall into the “exceptional woman” trap, where you try to prove you’re not like all the other women who really are less worthy than the menz. That’s the vibe I got from McCaffrey, and to an extent, from Lessa, the main character. So, yeah – I’m glad to have read a staple of the sci-fi genre, and one by a female author at that, but I’ll pass on the rest of the series.