School is wrapping up around here (2nd and 6th grade), and now that what I thought was going to be a standard revision has turned into a major overhaul, I’m quite swamped. I’ve got three stories in my revision queue and precious little time to work on them, so I’m resorting to a listicle this week.
I love myths and fairy tales. I love them for embracing the fantastic, for the talking animals and the magical transformations, for the sense that the mundane world is just a thin veil and terrible monsters or good fairy godmothers could upend everything in an instant. A lot of what I am writing right now is in the fairy tale idiom, probably because I love reading them and reading about them. Here’s a short and idiosyncratic list of the best of what I’ve read, with a couple items that I’m currently reading.
|Illustration for The Juniper Tree by Maurice Sendak|
The Juniper Tree: And Other Tales from Grimm. I have a complete collection of Grimm fairy tales, but this little book is my favorite. There are a couple familiar stories, but most of them are lesser known. They are all illustrated by Maurice Sendak, who truly understands the glorious weirdness and edgy violence that are a part of the fairy tale tradition (before Disney got ahold of them).
While the Grimm brothers attempted to collect fairy tales, writing them down close to their original oral form, Hans Christian Anderson was more interested in using them as source material to write tales that were more literary and personal. My own story, The Gyre, was inspired by the difference between Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid and HCA’s tragic original. I have the Fairy Tales (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) and it’s a good translation, but you can pick up a copy of his fairy tales at any second hand store.
Everybody knows about the Andersen and Grimm, but there’s a world of folk and fairy tales out there. There’s so much and they go so deep that it’s hard to know where to start! Outfoxing Fear: Folktales from Around the World is a good survey. From there you can jump any number of directions. Try Japanese Tales (Pantheon fairy tale & folklore library) or the Fairy Tales of the Russians and Other Slavs. As for the New World, I’ve had a copy of American Indian Trickster Tales (Myths and Legends) since college (more about the trickster tale in the next section). I recently read Myths, Legends, and Folktales of America: An Anthology.This is another interesting survey that collects myths and folktales from Native American cultures as well as material imported from around the world by immigrants and African Americans. It progresses through history and includes a chapter near the end called The Rock Hero – “Jesus and Elvis.”
I don’t just like to read fairy tales, I like to read about them.
|Reynard the Fox|