Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rhymes with Comestible: Detestable, Digestible, Investable

Naturally, following Art Fair week, when the weather is reliably horrid, it's absolutely gorgeous outside. The kind of weather Michiganders like to fool themselves into thinking we get way more often than we do: sunny, warm, breezy. A millionth play of Sarah Harmer's "All of Our Names" is mellowing me out even further, so it won't be long before I pack up a blanket and go read on a little square of park grass.

The book of choice will be "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me," a collection of new/reinterpreted fairy tales. It's pretty strong so far. It's dedicated to Angela Carter, so that was promising from the get-go. You're probably already aware of her sexy/evil/subversive fairy tale reinterpretations...but if not, The Bloody Chamber packs a lot of sly sophistication into a slim little volume. Check it out. But be warned: she loved upsetting the apple cart, creating dis-ease within the reader's experience. Carter definitely was of the "Let's put the Grim back in Grimm's!" school of thought, no shying away from savagery there.

Apparently, Carter's works are also still keeping college professors and students busy. A brief googling (oh dear! I meant to say: a casual search, using the Google search engine) gave me college flashbacks:
  • "Deconstructed Masculine Evil in Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber"
  • "The Bloody Chamber and the Decolonization of Feminine Sexuality"
  • "Living in the Present: Tense Switching in Angela Carter's Stories"
  • "This essay examines the different levels and meanings of liminal experience"
I used to live for stuff like that! I...don't know what changed, but this time around, it seemed a little cringe-worthy.

In any case, I'm really enjoying the new collection. Stand-outs so far: "Dapplegrim" by Brian Evenson, "Snow White, Rose Red" by Lydia Millet and "The Swan Brothers" by Shelley Jackson. The latter is one of the most experimental ones I have read*  -- it comes quite close to going too far, but the ideas are interesting and the lyricism, lovely. I have dog-eared several pages in that story.


"Things You Learn from Reading
Women are trouble--if it isn't an evil wife, it's an evil stepmother. Or mother-in-law. Mothers are usually all right, unless they're witches--watch out for the 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."  -- Shelley Jackson

Sweet bit of writing, Ms. Jackson!

Well, the original plan was to spend a moment on the above book, before some after-the-fact art fairing. But it seems I get easily carried away with the blogging. It's still nice and bright out there, though the shadows are stretching out. Best to be on my way. A breadcrumb trail would do me no good, with so many aggressive geese on the make.
*except for  "A Day in the Life of Half Rumpelstiltskin," though maybe I got through 5 minutes of that one -- seriously? You want me to read about HALF a character? I'm sure you have some neat ideas you're exploring, but if you need to remind the reader in almost every sentence that this is NOT about Rumpelstiltskin but about HALF of him, that's inelegant and irritating.


  1. Sounds fun. I enjoyed Neil Gaiman's ""Snow, Glass, Apples" a great deal; maybe I'd like this book too.

    As a geeky aside, I'll offer that I think 'google' is now an official verb in Swedish, and for some reason I find it funny to see it in all the tenses (infinitive: att googla; present: googlar; pluferfect: har googlat; past: googlade).

  2. Hahaha! There's something very satisfying about "googlar"!

    I'll have to check out Snow, Glass, Apple -- I tend to like Gaiman.