My new ebook is up for sale on Amazon:
This ebook (estimated at about 130 pages) contains three of my expanded retellings of stories collected in Andrew Lang’s 1900 The Grey Fairy Book. The original Lang versions are provided for comparison (along with commentary and historical information). The book includes three illustrations, and is available on Amazon for (at the moment) 99 cents US, and the equivalent in other currencies.
Usually when “fairy tales” are mentioned, what is meant are the thirty or so stories we’re familiar with from childhood books and Disney movies: Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and so on.
Retelling these familiar tales has become quite an industry, in books, on television, and in the movies. The fine arts, too, are filled with reactions to the famous stories. And commentary and analysis–for example, Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment; M. L. von Franz’s The Interpretation of Fairy Tales (and others); and many books by Jack Zipes (such as Breaking the Spell)–nearly always centers on the familiar tales.
There’s good reason for that, of course: it’s the often-retold stories that most effectively hook into our unconscious minds, and provide insights we find to be stimulating and significant. Through all the reworkings over the centuries, the familiar stories have been shaped to be accurate reflections of fundamental human truths.
But what about the less-familiar stories? What do they lack? Why aren’t they being made into feature films and television shows?
In many cases these stories are obscure because, well…they deserve to be. The metaphors are mixed; the psychology is flawed. The tales contain odd gaps and omissions; they end abruptly; they place great importance on elements that are mysteriously dropped from the narrative with no explanation. Middles don’t follow from beginnings, and endings don’t follow from either. The stories are not shapely.
Andrew Lang’s twelve compilations of tales from around the world, the “colored fairy books,” contain 437 stories–nearly four hundred of which are not well known. My mission: to prove that some of them deserve to be moved into the pantheon of the familiar.
I read “The White Wolf” in The Grey Fairy Book some time ago, and was intrigued by the situations and events depicted. But I was terribly frustrated by the story’s unsatisfying ending and sketchy portrayals. The same was true of the other stories in Grey Fairy/White Wolf.
It’s not only that these otherwise-fascinating stories were unshapely: it’s that they lack qualities that most modern readers expect. Like most fairy tales, these three were telegraphic and stylized. Fairy tales rarely invite us into the minds of the protagonists–and worse, rarely offer protagonists who have any discernible personalities.
I fleshed out the characters; while attempting to retain the formal distance and mythic tone of the fairy tales, I did provide some access to the workings of the characters’ minds. Where developments were abrupt, I devised plausible foundations; where the action seemed unmotivated, I suggested driving forces. Where characters were generic ciphers, I looked for individuality to highlight.
In short, I approached these stories–unshapely, yet compelling, strange, and colorful–as a story doctor.
For 99 cents, I hope that you (the reader of this lengthy post!) will judge whether or not my doctoring was successful.
(For this book, I’m glad to say, Amazon has put up a good-sized “Look Inside” preview. If anyone is interested in this book but doesn’t want to invest in a Kindle, there’s a free download at Amazon of “Kindle for Mac” and “Kindle for PC”–which are both quite useful, given the number of free reference books available. I’d advise grabbing the downloads at Amazon itself, rather than from a third party. It’s quick and easy–and it’s fun to get all the free goodies available for it.)