This volume contains 23(?) collected and retold by Steven Jay Epstein. Most of them are Trickster tales, half featuring animals, the other half featurThis volume contains 23(?) collected and retold by Steven Jay Epstein. Most of them are Trickster tales, half featuring animals, the other half featuring the character Xieng Mieng. These are bare-bones retellings, without flourishes, though the author admits to having added a few minor details (as all storytellers must).
There are notes in the back of the book, but they lack much cultural significance beyond explaining some story aspects to Western readers. There is little folkloric history behind these stories, nor is there an indication of which Laotian traditions these stories came from. But since Epstein was in Vientiane when he collected these stories, I assume they are stories that have roots there.
Since his purpose was to give the reader a "taste of this Lao humor", this is not a well-rounded collection. Noticibly absent are origin stories, stories that explain celestial and natural phenomena, heroic tales, and anything relating to history, political or otherwise. ...more
This book was part of my initial search for the stories of my past. There weren't many books at my local library that dealt with Laos and its involvemThis book was part of my initial search for the stories of my past. There weren't many books at my local library that dealt with Laos and its involvement with the Veitnam conflict. I'd seen a synopsis of this in a catalogue and requested it. And because I had to return it (and most likely it was late) I never got around to finishing it. I probably had a chapter more to go. But it was mostly read.
And this book at the time gave me such a rich imagining for the land I barely remember. Warner describes the land and the people he'd met with such clarity. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could begin to understand something of what my parents were dealing with, in a political and social sense.
And I wanted to read more about this subject adn come to terms with it and understand where I come from because this book made it clear how important the story is. ...more