Showing posts from April, 2014

How One Thousand and One Nights Came to Be, By Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

One Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights did not always comprise its nigh-proverbial 1,001 tales. The anthology, as we are familiar with it today, actually has no single source and stems from no single culture. Growing up, I could recognize tales as belonging to the Nights, but I had not (and still probably haven’t) read every tale ever included. Before today, I was even unsure about which title was the correct one to use (and am still unconvinced there is one).

So what is the history of Scheherazade and her 1,001 tales? Where did this story about stories come from? The Vintage Sleuth is on the case!

The first known use of the title “One Thousand and One Nights” appears (in Arabic) in, of all places, a 12th century notebook belonging to a Jewish bookseller from Cairo. The content of the book, however, originates from much earlier. The frame narrative--that of Scheherazade and of the ruler Shahryar, whom she entertains with stories for a thousand and one nights to stave off his …

Book Review Column, By Lissa Sloan--Birds and Beasts:Two Fairy Tale Novels by Helen Oyeyemi (Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox)

Boy, Snow, Birdby Helen Oyeyemi

When striking blonde Boy Novak appears in Flax Hill, she is thinking of little else but escaping her abusive father. She cannot make beautiful things by hand like many of the Flax Hill residents, but she perseveres. Eventually she makes a place for herself and marries into the Whitman family, becoming wife to jewelry maker Arturo and stepmother to his captivating daughter Snow. When Boy and Arturo’s daughter Bird is born, the color of Bird’s skin reveals a secret Boy had never imagined about her in-laws and husband. Boy must decide how to adapt to a life she had no idea she was accepting, and how to handle her growing animosity to her beautiful fair skinned stepdaughter.

Helen Oyeyemi’s latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird is narrated in turns by Boy and Bird. The style of Boy’s narration is particularly chilling, immediately mesmerizing the reader with her dispassionate descriptions of an unhappy childhood with her father, the rat catcher. Boy, Snow, Bird

Care and Feeding, By Ed Ahern

Editor's note: Charm is hard to define, but I know it when i see it. This story has plenty of charm, and while it is quite modern in style, has the pace and details of a classic fairy tale: A magical creature, an underdog to root for, and, of course, riches.
erry ran crying into the reeds behind his house. He hopped from tussock to tussock, staying dry until he reached his secret place. The patch of ground was circled by tall reeds, making him invisible. Deer bedded there at night, but during the day the little island was Terry’s alone. No one else would want to come. Terry peeked eastward through the reeds at a brackish pond, and across the pond, at the town land fill. The town’s garbage and broken toys and worn out clothes and grass clippings had been dumped there for over 50 years. The slope facing Terry was ash-tinged dirt decorated with patches of weeds and scrub brush. He dropped down onto a bed of broken reeds warmed by the sun. The dried reeds crackled and puffed o…