I've been resisting reading this book, because of my aversion to short stories. I want to love them, but they are always too short and they usually fe...moreI've been resisting reading this book, because of my aversion to short stories. I want to love them, but they are always too short and they usually feel like a let-down. But this: a collection of fairytales retold. As an avid fairytale lover, I just can't pass this up.
My favorites are: Drawing the Curtain by Gregory Maguire (which is technically an introduction, but I really enjoyed it) Ardour by Jonathon Keats The Brother and the Bird by Alissa Nutting The Swan Brothers by Shelley Jackson Halfway People by Karen Joy Fowler Green Air by Rikki Ducornet The Mermaid in the Treet by Timothy Schaffert What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body is Gone by Katherine Vaz Catskin by Kelly Link Teague O'Kane and the Corpse by Chris Adrian Body-Without-Soul by Kathryn Davis The Girl, the Wolf, the Crone by Kellie Wells The ColorMaster by Aimee Bender (especially this one! omg) Blue-Bearded Lover by Joyce Carol Oates A Kiss to Wake the Sleeper by Rabih Alameddine A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure and Risk Management By Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility by Stacey Richter Orange by Neil Gaiman Psyche's Dark Night by Francesca Lia Block The Story of the Mosquito by Lily Hoang Ever After by Kim Addonizio
This pile of fairytales has some that are way off the mark, others that are familiar and seem like you've heard them a hundred times, and others that really sparkle in their breathtaking ability to make old familiar tales seem fresh again. There are definitely some duds, but overall the massive collection really makes this book worth it.(less)
I remember loving this book as a kid, but as an adult, it's a bit of a disappointment. So far, the cover is actually more beautiful than the story. It...moreI remember loving this book as a kid, but as an adult, it's a bit of a disappointment. So far, the cover is actually more beautiful than the story. It's heartbreaking and one of those essential retellings/stories of human emotional experience that I think are worthwhile but ultimately don't leave me thrilled. My tastes have definitely changed since I was a young teen. Now I vastly prefer unusual retellings. Napoli's writing is simple and would probably suit a young reader better than an advanced one.(less)
Typos are disappointing; clearly, the editor fell asleep on this one. However, the stories themselves are really interesting. Quite a few of them seem...moreTypos are disappointing; clearly, the editor fell asleep on this one. However, the stories themselves are really interesting. Quite a few of them seem to end rather abruptly, and I can't decide if details were left out because of language barriers or if that's just the way Japanese fairytales go. It makes them jarring, even for short stories (which I dislike to begin with, because I always want them to last so much longer).
The further in I get, the more difficult it becomes to pay attention. Some of the stories are cool and some of them seem kind of pointless. Maybe I should just stop trying to convince myself that I like short stories. It might just be the awful editing. My favorite was when they substituted "poop" for "poor". It's probably somewhere between two and three stars for me, but because only one or two of the tales really stuck with me (in a good way), I think it's closer to an overall 2. A pity, because I like fairytales generally, just think the bad editing really ruined this one.(less)
This book is a deep cardamom kiss. It is every daydream you've ever had of living in a library rolled into one and exploded into a vast library that c...moreThis book is a deep cardamom kiss. It is every daydream you've ever had of living in a library rolled into one and exploded into a vast library that could not be contained even in your thoughts.
Another reviewer complained that Miller comes from the adjective school of writing. I personally enjoy thick description* in my novels, but if you're someone who prefers the starkness of, say, John Steinbeck's writing, then this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you like authors like Francesca Lia Block, whose books are poetry to me, then this might be for you.
While the writing and description are both beautiful, there are some issues of exoticization and "man-voice". Exoticization because it's all about veils and look at these exotic women and oooo isn't it special. Miller makes it all about The Exotic East, which is pretty vomit-inducing for a sociologist like me. And then there's the problem of "man-voice". I don't have a better term for this. Put it this way: the majority of books I read are by women. This is a purposeful choice on my part (see Inga Muscio for more explanation). And it is very, very evident that this book is written by a man. For brief but unpleasant periods, the story becomes all about testicles and/or penises. I couldn't care less about male genitalia. But those parts are mostly brief and easy to skim.
The four stars are mainly because of the problem of man-voice and the exoticization. But this is a beautiful book, with descriptions so deep you can sink into them like cloud-beds. Be sure to read with a stash of almond cookies, tea, and apricots.
* Thanks Clifford Geertz! You intended that term academically, but I intend to use it whenever possible.(less)