In this sweetly brief collection of short stories, Yoko Ogawa gives readers glimpses of the mundane, mixed with unsettling imagery and hints of darkneIn this sweetly brief collection of short stories, Yoko Ogawa gives readers glimpses of the mundane, mixed with unsettling imagery and hints of darkness under a calm exterior. Ogawa’s writing is starkly beautiful. Although this is a translation, the economy and choice of words adds to the chilly and reserved tone of the stories, giving readers a well-rounded reading experience where language, plot, and theme all compliment and enhance one another.
I wouldn’t classify this book as mainstream horror by any means. There is murder and, like the title says, revenge, but none of the stories strictly dwell on the violence. Instead, the narratives slowly reveal the underlying dark nature, swelling to a peak at the end of each tale. Themes and symbols are introduced only to reappear in later stories, building as you read further in the book. I found this interweaving of narrative to both enhance the disquieting nature of the book and to give the book a nice cohesion. The symbols reminded me of musical strains you might hear at different moments in movements of a symphony. In fact, the act of reading Revenge felt a great bit like listening to a good piece of music. I’m sure if I were to reread it I would pick up new notes and melodies I had missed on my earlier reading.
I found Revenge to be a very satisfying book to read, and although I haven’t read it in the original Japanese, I think the translator Stephen Snyder deserves recognition for a translation in which the language mirrors the themes and emotions of the narrative. I recommend this book to lovers of literary horror, short stories, and to people who want to try something different but don’t want to have to make a huge time commitment....more
I grew up loving fairy tales, especially those by the Brothers Grimm. I had them narrated on records, and I’d sit or lay on the carpet and just listenI grew up loving fairy tales, especially those by the Brothers Grimm. I had them narrated on records, and I’d sit or lay on the carpet and just listen and let my imagination take me away. I took the stories at face value, and never questioned how odd they are, or why things happen in them the way they do. It was just how it was.
Now, as an adult, it’s wonderful to be able to get reacquainted with the stories, and to read some I’d never heard of before. In this new translation and version, Philip Pullman has selected 50 of the stories and presents them once again. He doesn’t embellish much, but tries to find the best version of each tale from the many editions the Grimm brothers published. At the end of each story, Pullman gives bibliographical references for similar stories that appear in sources like Mother Goose, Italo Calvino, and the Arabian Nights, among others. When available, Pullman also tells us where the brothers first heard the tale, and from whom. It’s a fantastic starting point for those looking for references to related sources.
As straightforward as the stories are, Pullman still gives us his own thoughts about them at the end, and choices he would make if he were to change them. For example, in his version of Rapunzel he has Rapunzel complain of her clothes being too tight, revealing to the witch that she is pregnant, rather than the alternative of Rapunzel stupidly asking the witch why she is heavier to pull up than the prince. Pullman argues that his way keeps Rapunzel completely innocent and worthy of her eventual redemption. Pullman also wrote a fantastic introduction to the volume, giving intelligent analysis of why and how fairy tales work.
This is a beautiful book of well-loved stories, and Pullman’s own writing makes it worthwhile to anyone who is interested in folklore, storytelling, and the sources of our common narrative standards....more
The Eternal Kiss 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire is a great anthology of thirteen vampire tales by current YA authors. Not every story focuses onThe Eternal Kiss 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire is a great anthology of thirteen vampire tales by current YA authors. Not every story focuses on the vampire as love-interest/Byronic hero, although there is that if you want it. Overall, I thought this compilation did a great job of presenting the vampire in its many forms and mythologies. While the writers each have their own voice and take on the vampire, the stories hang together well as a cohesive unit, making this a strong anthology.
For me, the strongest stories were:
"Falling to Ash" by Karen Mahoney - This was more of a beginning to something that could develop much further. As my first introduction to Mahoney's work, it made me curios to read her other writings.
"Sword Point" by Maria V. Snyder - I liked this story because its vampires were truly monstrous, and the protagonist showed potential to develop into a very strong female character.
"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black - I find Black's writing to be gritty, yet poetic. I also liked the way Black treated vampires as infected citizens in quarantine.
"The Thirteenth Step" by Libba Bray - This was a nicely paced, intriguing story, with a main character that had a great back story.
"Wet Teeth" by Cecil Castellucci - What made this story so good was how short and concise it was.