Friday, December 27, 2013

Short Story Catch-Up

I have still been reading short stories as per my goal this year (especially on Tor.com), but I've neglected to record a few of them. So, here goes:

Short Story #8 Brimstone and Marmalade by Aaron Corwin
Publisher: Tor.com

Summary:

A little girl wants a pony for her birthday. Instead, she gets a demon.

Favorite Quotes:

"Mathilde knew what 'we'll see' meant. It was one of those special lies only grownups were allowed to tell. When a grownup said, 'we'll see,' it really meant 'never'."

Short Story #9 In the Greenwood by Mari Ness

Publisher: Tor.com

Summary:

"Robin Hood" from Maid Marian's point of view is not so cheery, at least in Ness' rendition. Apparently, I don't like to have my fairy, folk,and mythical tales messed with, as will be evident coming up...

Short Story #10 Psyche's Dark Night by Francesca Lia Block
Anthology: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me Ed. Kate Bernheimer



I bought this collection a few years ago, at the Boston Book Festival, and since then, I've dipped into it occasionally. I've probably read more than half of the stories in the book-and the truth is, I disliked most of them, and was ashamed to admit this. This is because, you see, it's not at all what I would call outright "bad writing." Many of the authors in this book are very well-respected and famous. Rather, I would say that a lot of the stylistic and content choices in this book were simply not my cup of tea. A lot of the stories were altered to be violently and sexually graphic, to turn tables and characterize heroes as monsters and vice versa. Essentially, to complicate fairy tale worlds and bring them down to an earthly level or at least a new kind of confusion, whether in terms of format or content. I didn't like it. But I bet there are many out there who will, so if you think you can handle it, I would urge you to disregard my opinion.

That said, there was at least one story in this collection that I liked very much. It is probably one of the more conventionally written ones, but I thought it was a charming update of the Cupid and Psyche myth. Francesca Lia Block turns Cupid and Psyche into wary online daters, and the conceit works very well with the premise of the myth. Her Cupid and Psyche really demonstrate the human factor though, that is missing in the bare-bones myth. And that's really what I would like fairy tale re-tellings to do-relate it to our world in an understandable way, not add to the confusion and mystification. But to each, their won. In any case, I have found a new author whose work I may want to look into more. That, I think, is one of the many advantages of short stories over novels (of course novels have advantages over short stories as well), to be able to quickly identify authors that you like, without having to invest so much time.

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