Friday, October 1, 2010

Tales Respun: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me


I've been waiting for this particular book to arrive for some time now, and so when I spotted My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales in Fully Booked, I immediately got myself a copy. Truthfully, I haven't finished it yet--there are 40 stories after all.

If you take a close look at the book image, you'll probably see one or two (or more) of your favorite authors on the cover. Basically, this book is a compilation of fairy tales many of us grew up reading, adapted by quite a number of some of the most gifted authors (Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Neil Gaman, Michael Cunningham, etc.). The fact that its edited by Kate Bernheimer (author and editor)--pretty much one of the most respected authorities on fairy tales, with a foreword from writer Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), who could probably author a book entitled How to Retell a Fairy Tale Successfully, and the fact that its dedicated to the queen of the contemporary fairy tale Angela Carter, pretty much had me sold despite the fact that I've always had an aversion to remakes (its hard to watch, read, or listen to what you love get botched up) of any kind, especially the kind that puts a contemporary twist on anything deemed "classic."

Of the stories that I have read in this collection, a couple really stood out:

I've always liked the story of Cupid and Psyche, a Greek fairytale on the trials of true and forbidden love, and with a vengeful mother to boot. In this compilation, Francesca Lia Block takes on the task of taking this old fairy tale and making it new in "Psyche's Dark Night." (Note: I'm not going to give away any of the plots in this blog entry because I wouldn't want to deprive anyone the joy of discovering these gems for themselves). What ensues is a really refreshing take on this classic tale, one that isn't burdened by its effort to be...well...contemporary.

Another great story is John Updike's take on "Bluebeard." (Actually, there are two stories based on "Bluebeard." The other is great too, and is by Joyce Carol Oates). It totally lives up to the fear that reading the original instilled in young brides-to-be (or anyone for that matter). A bit of a spoiler: Bluebeard here is an old man with a much-younger wife (though she is by no means young in the story). Though it was never stated in the original, I always envisioned Bluebeard to be a bit advanced in terms of age. One thing I'll say about this story: sometimes reading about a bad deed in the head can be freakier than reading about the actual thing.

I'm really looking forward to reading the other stories, especially the renditions of "Little Mermaid" and "The Snow Queen" by Timothy Schaffert and Karen Brennan, respectively, and that's what I'm going to do now.

Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. I want a copy of this, Lucy! How much and is this available in Fully Booked The Block? :)


  2. Oh my gosh, this looks delicious! I love fairy tale retellings and the authors in this anthology are great! Thank you for featuring this book.:)