These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales: Stories
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These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales: Stories

2.99 of 5 stars 2.99  ·  rating details  ·  345 ratings  ·  104 reviews
From the irresistibly droll mind of Jim Knipfel comes These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales, a series of twisted fables that echo with pinpoint acuity. A masterful storyteller whose memoirs and novels have earned him widespread acclaim, this is Knipfel’s first foray into the short story, and he delivers in spades: this wickedly dark sa...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 11th 2010)
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Greg
If I had read this book when I was about eighteen or twenty I would have loved it. If I had read this book then (assuming it was out then, and didn't just get published in 2010, or assume I am twenty in 2010 and not a decrepit thirty six and that I then discovered a goodreads in 2026 and started adding books I read when I was younger but used my feelings for what thirty six year old me thought twenty year old me thought of the above-mentioned book, got it?) I would have given this five stars. I...more
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
Apr 11, 2011 Dustin Crazy little brown owl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like twisted tales
Some of the stories are absolutely amazing - others not so great. Fun & Twisted, Entertaining - My kind of book :-) I'm gonna have to check out other books by this author because I really like his way with words :-)

The book starts out with a bang! as Satan creates the Earth and humans. I loved the first two stories The Chicken Who Was Smarter Than Everyone and The Boy Who Came to His Senses but then I was stuck in a slump of not so great stories including one about a sock monkey which I didn...more
Jeff
I think my expectations may have been a little too high for Knipfel's book after reading the over-the-top superaltives lavished on it by Entertainment Weekly for the past month. The book IS a fun, clever grotesquerie of adult fairy tales, but ultimately I felt like I was reading too much of the same from story to story. I know fairy tales are SUPPOSED to have a very prescribed formula, but since the author was parodying this type of storytelling, I guess I was hoping for the "form" to be toyed w...more
Michele
Reviews of this said it was "irresistibly droll," "wickedly dark," and "wildly entertaining." I beg to differ. As someone who's read widely in and on fairy tales (Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, Snow White, Blood Red, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse, etc.) I found it sadly lacking. I would even say lame. I don't care whether your retellings are dark, light or total flu...more
Tyler Jones
My reaction to this collection of short stories is pretty much the same as many others who have reviewed it here on Goodreads. Still, I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus, as we almost unanimously shout out a loud and unwavering “Meh!”

I was completely drawn in by the premise: streetwise anti-fairy tales where almost nobody lives happily-ever-after. I took guilty pleasure in the first few stories but the more I read the more I realized that Knipfel basically had a great idea for one sho...more
Laura
If you like bizarre, twisted and kind of dark, this is the book for you. Knipfel's collection of short stories, described by the title and many critics as "fairy tales," is about as weird as they come — and therein lies their appeal.

One annoyance? I don't think a single story has an actual ending other than, "Oh, damn, I have to end the story now, so basically I'll just kind of cut it off right here with something abrupt." Boom. End of story. Translation: You won't learn a damned thing from any...more
Karen Hansen
I loved Jim Knipfel’s short story compilation, “These Children Who Come at You with Knives and Other Fairy Tales.” The stories are absolutely hilarious. This is not a compilation for the easily offended or easily grossed out.

I think reading this book was made an even better experience, because the book was picked out and given to me by my boyfriend’s nine year old daughter. This book is so inappropriate for children! I also love that a kid gave me a book with this title…like it serves as a warn...more
Mark Schuliger
I had high hopes for this book. "Twisted tales" sounded right up my alley. I must admit the writing is excellent, keeping you reading along with each story. However, I was not a big fan on the conclusions. They just didn't wow me. I was completely engrossed in the story and then they tended to end with a wimper (in my opinion).

Still gets three stars for the writing. I guess I just want more bang for my buck. I enjoyed Stephen King's "Nightshift" much more.
Mjhancock
It's very rare that I don't actually finish a book, but I think this is going to be one of those times. TCWCYKOFT is a collection of short stories, or fairy tales, as their author calls them--updated fairy tales, like the Boy Who Was Turned into a Cockroach, or the Woman Who Was Best Friends with a Maggot. Some are entertaining, like the prologue that retells the creation myth with Satan in the leading role, but most follow a depressing, overly melodramatic, miserable, and above all repetitive p...more
Crabby McGrouchpants
I kept having to put the book down and "collect myself," it's so funny!

Don't get me started 'bout this one!

Jim Knipfel is a brilliant, wryly-observant writer, and, while the "wry" part of that last often tends to outweigh the "observant" in all-too-often a case, Knipfel manages to pack in paragraph after paragraph of evolving, expanding, wider-range extrapolation in each of these semi-humorous, semi-tragic "fairy tales."

(Well, alright ... only the chicken story is really & truly "tragic," bu...more
Kim Hollis
I'd seen a lot of good buzz for These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and I was fairly disappointed with it. Although all of the stories are easy, quick reads, there's a mean-spiritedness to them that I found difficult to overcome. I love fairy tales, and was hoping this modern, updated take would prove to be fun. I realize that often times in classic stories, the ending isn't always pleasant or nice. But these new stories seem to delight in doing evil to their characters, especially if th...more
April Cole
If you love twisted takes on fairy tales then this is the book for you. It contains 14 short stories all of which are very much adult content. Most of the stories were enjoyable and quick reads, but I felt most of them ended rather suddenly.
I decided to read this book after reading the wonderful review in Entertainment Weekly. Over all I thought the book was good but just not as great as the review made it out to be.
Dale Philbrick
I couldn't finish this book (and I hate it when that happens!). I didn't find the series of short stories compelling enough to continue reading even though I did enjoy certain lines of the stories (a few lines made me actually laugh out loud... too bad the consistency wasn't there to keep me interested).
Rebecca
What a terrible book! Pithy stories, dull writing, a remarkably trite ending, it was just terrible. The shocking ending was lame, would only have been worse if it was revealed to be a dream sequence. Skip this and read Neil Gaiman stories instead, you will thank me.
Sarah
I know I'm just repeating what a lot of others have already said, but overall I was very disappointed with this book. I suppose I really shouldn't complain since the book was free, but here's what I think.

I'm a fairy tale lover, and I've read many different kinds, including the original, dark Grimm tales. So when I saw that this book was a book of dark fairy tales, I was prepared for twisted, somewhat unhappy endings. That's not the part that upset me.

But, this collection really fell short of my...more
R.John
Sep 17, 2010 R.John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fabulists & gnome lovers
Shelves: fiction
I have been reading Knipfel since I lived in NYC. His columns for the NYPress documenting his drunken wanderings and dealing with his impending blindness were inventive and creepy. This collection of short story fables all revolve around usual tropes of failure and loser-dom. None of the characters live very happily ever after, though some of the various pests and roaches and maggots do. Which makes this collection very typical of the New York imagination, I feel. There is an ironic dread that p...more
Dayna Ingram
I added an extra star because I couldn't get through it and maybe one of the stories I didn't read is amazing. Stranger things have happened.

For fairy tales, there's a disappointing lack of variety or imagination in these stories. All of the stories were written in the same style (tone, diction, PoV, everything), which I at first attributed to the author's attempt to make the tales feel as if they were being read aloud to you -- you know, the oral tradition through which classical fairy tales w...more
Isidore
Delightful black comedy from Knipfel. Although not as memorably depressing as Slackjaw, this is far superior to The Buzzing, the only other purely fictional work by him which I've so read so far. The writing is polished and witty, and the ideas good, although I noticed that the best yarns were those which were NOT based on ideas "suggested" by Morgan Intrieri.

I see a lot of fairy tale fans have been disappointed by it. Although the trappings of traditional fairy stories are present, these are re...more
Allison
This book was terrible. At least it was a quick read so I didn’t waste too much of my time on it. I usually pass my books on to someone else who I think would enjoy reading them, but I can’t think of a single person who I would give this to. It’s probably going to get recycled.

I just don’t understand the concept of this book. It’s clearly written for adults (I hope) because of the cursing and some of the subject matter, but if it was toned down just a little, it could be on par with great books...more
Cameron Mount
Sometimes the abrupt backpedal-on-what-you-thought-the-entire-point-was at the ends were more irritating than funny, but I laughed a LOT during this book. I've encountered situations in the few days since reading this book that remind me of a character in the book, and I've been able to explain the ludicrous plot. STORIES! STORYTELLING! It's not particularly deep, but the lessons and characters are substantial enough to be original and stay with you, and that's what stories are for, right? If yo...more
Jeff Talbott
If you're looking for a dirty little lark, here's a collection of nasty fairy tales from a very funny writer. Taking the basic template of the form, Jim Knipfel develops a bookful of twisty narratives that place fairy tale rules into modern parlance, and the results are both truly funny and kind of instantly forgettable. For me, the book ends up serving as a fun palate cleanser between bigger reads, and if that's not what you're looking for, this may not be for you. But it is a breezy read full...more
Stephanie Pasciuti
The first story in this book moved me to the point of falling in love with it. I absolutely adored the whole thing. And then the stories that followed made it a little more mediocre. If anything, I would suggest just reading a few of the stories in it as some of them were crazy and weird and just not exactly understandable.

Granted, I will say that this book has one very important thing going for it, and that presents itself in a form of continuity that I was not expecting. I will certainly hold...more
Jess
This book sort of reminded me of South Park: part toilet humor, part satire, part intelligent social commentary (in this case, a small part). It’s a novel of spoofs on myths and fairy tales. To give you an idea of the overall tone, the author’s bio at the end says he’s not allowed at family friendly establishments.

A lot of guys in their twenties will love it. As a girl in her twenties, it was OK. I gave it 3 stars because I would have like it much better in small doses as opposed to devouring it...more
Jane
This book got a lot of great reviews.

I hated this book.

I got about halfway through it and had to stop. These are depressing stories, which I knew going into the book, but what I didn't expect was that these would be unmemorable, meaningless, depressing stories.

Take some elves or gnomes or trolls. Mix in some miserable humans. Have something terrible happen to the human, and relatively quickly. Who cares?

Some depressing stories, by which I mean stories without the traditional happy endings, stay...more
Kate
This is some genius Knipfel. Do you already love Jim Knipfel? Good. You are smart. Read these stories. If you're the Oprah's Book Club type, steer clear and shut up -- Jim ain't for you. Knipfel is a chainsmoking misanthrope. Also: a pessimist. These tales reflect that. Oh, and he's a nihilist. These tales reflect that, too. You will not find a happy ending in any of these stories; you will not find your worldview mirrored or fluffed like a favorite Laura Ashley pillow. What you will find is a f...more
Marsha
From the twisted mind of the man who brought Slackjaw to so many avid readers of “The New York Press” comes an anthology of modern-day fairy tales peopled with trolls, talking animals, polluting elves, power-mad gnomes, hungry larvae, happy-go-lucky sock monkeys and the most fearsome, deadly and violent creature of all—mankind, a creature a bored Satan created out of animal feces. Knipfel exposes humans in all our raw ugliness yet the reader will find himself rapt with appalled fascination at al...more
Eric
This book is a collection of fairly tales written for the adult. There is swearing, violence, etc mixed in with the usual gnomes, dwarves, fairy tale stigmas.

I can't say I much cared for it. Right off the bat, I can say that the only story I really liked in the whole book was the Preface. I think that says a lot right there.

The rest of the stories each had their funny moments, but overall left me unfulfilled. I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say exactly, but if you want fairy tales, stick...more
Evan
A more cartoonish, less humane version of the George Saunders style, using a hammer rather than a sharp carving knife to destroy the miniatures after painstakingly creating them and imbuing them with pathos. I liked his first couple of fractured fairy tales (especially the ones with real morals), but eventually I got tired of the nihilist shtick, and at this point in time anyone who glorifies Charles Manson, even as a pop-culture joke, is going to lose points with me. If that makes me a bourgeoi...more
Stacie
Short stories with no point. I really wanted to like this book, but have given up. The 1st story is the begining of man. A hilarious take on the philosophy of Satan.

The second story, I was so bored with smart chicken. Seriously, it was so predictable that she'd end up a side show. Where's the punchline?

Third story: "The Boy Who Came to His Senses"...really, the point of this was to state the obvious. Stupid man gets duped into chasing after stupid troll for princess amusement.
Kelsey
I was very excited to read this book, the reviewers loved it and I"m a sucker for dark and twisted fairy tales. These are not fairy tales--they are just stories that are badly written. the beginning may be interesting, but by the end the writer obviously just wanted to finish it immediately and thought about nothing. Basically every story ended by "and then he died". There were maybe two stories that I really enjoyed, but other than that, nothing special, very easy read.
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“These children who come at you with knives-they're your children.-Chuck” 1 likes
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