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My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales

(New Fairy Tales #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,614 ratings  ·  496 reviews
The fairy tale lives again in this book of forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction.

Neil Gaiman, “Orange”
Aimee Bender, “The Color Master”
Joyce Carol Oates, “Blue-bearded Lover”
Michael Cunningham, “The Wild Swans”
These and more than thirty other stories by Francine Prose, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Lydia Millet, and many other extra
Paperback, 576 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Penguin Group
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Christopher Nunez Yes it is an incredibly good book! the best part about anthologies is you have multiple stories so if you dont like one youre bound to like another. I…moreYes it is an incredibly good book! the best part about anthologies is you have multiple stories so if you dont like one youre bound to like another. I personally loved all of the stories except for one or two. I know you asked this two years ago and probably already read it but for anyone who has the same question this is for you!(less)

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Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Some of the stories are okay. A couple are good. An unusual preponderance struck me derivative, boring, and/or pretentious. It bothered me that the publisher tried to present this volume as doing something new and important when it is not. At all. "Reinterpreting" fairy tales as coming-of-age stories or coded depictions of sexual abuse has been done for decades, frequently better than it is here. And to be honest, I think the modern view that this was ever new is kind of embarrassing in its naiv ...more
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: folk-fairy-tales
This is a fairly decent collection of "updated" fairy tales from around the world. Familiar names like Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Michael Cunningham, and more create "new stories sewed from old skins" by adding twists and spins to classic stories. And like many of the grimmer fairy tales, these stories are definitely NOT for children.

Each tale concludes with a few paragraphs by the authors explaining why a particular story was chosen. This was an unexpected and interesting glimpse into the
Sarah Montambo and Marie saw me looking longingly at this morbid book, picking it up to read the back and putting it down several times, and since they're both generous, attentive, kind, and LOADED$$$...j/k on that last one, but the rest of it is true and they got me this book! Present!!

It looks much cooler than it's turning out to be, for my uncultured and poorly educated taste. But I love it for being a gift from friends who noticed and acted. Who has people like that in their lives? Lucky one
Well. That was disappointing.

I don't know what most of these people were thinking when they wrote these stories. I technically do, going by the end notes, but obviously something went very wrong between them detailing what inspired them and writing while inspired.

The first two stories weren't half bad. Actually, the second story 'The Snow Maiden' was the best of the bunch; it had a novel fantastical setting with an interesting plot and satisfying ending. The only other story I can say measured u
Tim Storm
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Okay. It's difficult being an anthology. A few stinkers in the collection and people rate it a 3 or 4. But there is no anthology that doesn't have a handful of stories that are weaker or less appealing than the others. For me, the real test is How many excellent stories does it contain? And this book has about 14 really good stories and 4 absolutely superb ones. (My favorites: "The Erkling," "Halfway People," "The Mermaid in the Tree," and "The Color Master"; authors Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Karen ...more
It's interesting using this book in a case. The Swan stories are the most popular, and the quiet ones about relationships confuse people for some reason.

Old Review
There is a misnomer on the cover of this book. Some short stories in this volume have not been commissioned for the book. Several of them have appeared in various magazines and collections (some have appeared over a decade ago).

This is okay, for this is the first time that they are all collected together and I hadn't read any of them b
Rowan MacBean
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
If you think you're a fan of fairy tales but all you know are the watered-down, Disneyfied versions, steer clear of this book. These are real fairy tales, not shiny magical stories with happy endings to read to your kids at bedtime. They don't flinch away from cannibalism, bestiality, incest, abuse, insanity, death, and general deviance. These modern tales don't stick very closely to the specific stories that inspired them but they DO honor the spirit of them and of fairy tales in general. I LOV ...more
First ever anthology in which I couldn't find a single story to love, and with this one collecting 41 tales, it must be a new record. Even in the worst ones, there was always at least one story that if not good was at least interesting and worth the read, which wasn't the case here. Pretentiousness galore and mediocrity would be the issues I'd hold against it.
Pamela Scott
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with multiple authors’.

I really enjoyed My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. It’s a great, diverse collection of stories. I love fairy tales, especially darker ones intended for adults. Some of my favourite stories are the adult fairy tales edited by Ellen Datlow. I loved the cover and this is one of the reasons I bought the book. That and the crazy title. My Mother She Kill
Simcha Lazarus
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it

Talk about an attention grabbing title! I’m enjoying telling people about this book just so that I can have the opportunity pronounce the titillating title, and watch the reactions of my friends. But no, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me is not about cannibalism. Or at least, not all of it. But since the theme of this short-story collection is fairy tales, you can expect to encounter some pretty gruesome stories in the style of the original Grimm tales, along with stories of adventure
Sara Saif

You know, when you're sick, and lying on, what feels at the time, to be your deathbed, you want to read something that cheers you up, transports your consciousness someplace magical that makes you forget your unfortunate reality, especially if that something claims to be a book about fairytales. NOT something that seems to be helping you on your way.

I couldn't believe my luck that this was what I had to read before succumbing to a nasty bout of vomiting and shitting, and after, when that was ove
With collections of short stories, it is always hard to give stars - some inevitably deserve 5 and some...

So, those that deserve 5 stars (or more), in my humble (or not so humble) opinion:

"Orange" by Neil Gaiman
"The Color Master" by Aimee Bender
"The Story of the Mosquito" by Lily Hoang
"Ardour" by Jonathon Keats
"Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian
"The First Day" of Snow by Naoko Awa

2 that were good but disturbing:

"The Mermaid in the Tree" by Timothy Schaffert
"The Brother and the Bird" b
I love fairy tale retellings. But the anthology as a whole was underwhelming. Some of the stories were enjoyable. Many were boring. And a lot of the author notes were extremely pretentious. I just felt like the authors didn't really do anything new. It was pretty much like when artists take Disney princesses and use them in their work to highlight different social issues. I understand the importance of the issues and appreciate what the artist is doing, but I've seen it all before. Pretty much e ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you have any interest in fantastic fiction and fairy tales, this collection is a must-read. These stunning, contemporary retellings of folklore and fables from throughout the world and history are beautiful, carefully curated, and at times, breathtaking. In particular, check out "Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child" and "The Warm Mouth."
I don't really know what this anthology could have done to make me like it more, but it just did not work for me at all. I recently decided that if I'm reading an anthology and I don't like a particular story I will just jump right to the next one, and because of this I literally don't think I finished close to half of the stories here. Obviously retelling fairy tales is nothing new, but most of these just seemed to take the most obvious route possible and there was a definite sense of 'been the ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales Edited by Kate Bernheimer is the book I bought myself for Christmas. This volume is a treasure chest of the fantastic and strange, vaguely familiar stories from childhood remade. Not to mention that title - which would have made me pick up this book no matter what it was about. Lucky for me what lay inside was individually as unique as the title and accompanied with a short explanation of how they came to be written by each auth
Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it
I found this an uneven collection. I suppose I carry Terri Windling's The Armless Maiden as my template for updated fairy tales, so the bar is set high. Some of the stories bordered on nonsensical as authors tried to recreate the tone of fairy tales by just stringing together strange events as paltry vestments, lacking then the cultural mores and lessons that give traditional stories their real meat. Other stories seemed like ersatz versions of the originals--adding or subtracting nothing. There ...more
M Christopher
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, fiction
I must confess that I "finished" this book yesterday largely by reading about the first page of the stories in the remaining half of the book and deciding "not." While the literary excellence of nearly all of them was and is clear to me, I simply wasn't in the mood for the high level of creepiness of nearly all of them. Too dark for me right now. Sorry.
Deborah Harkness
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
a luminous, thought-provoking collection of modern fairy tales that will remind grownups of how wonderfully unsettling the genre is.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Kate Bernheimer assembles a collection of chiefly new stories, all that draw directly or indirectly on a traditional fairy tale. We see in the table of contents the inspiration for each story. It took me over two months to read it, and now I'm a bit sad to be done. Heck, I may reread all the ones that earned an A from me.

The collection offers an array of approaches: some offer short tales of two pages or so, some write for 20+ pages. Some tales are quite like fairy tales in that the characters
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm going to review as I go. And I expect I will be easily side tracked to read the original tale when I don't already know it. So this might take awhile, but hopefully it will be a fun project.

Intro by Gregory Maguire wholly entertaining. I particularly love the way it refreshed my memory of all the obvious and less than obvious fairy tales I have encountered over time.

Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child 5 stars. Great "never saw that coming" twist. And the author's comments on her inspiration are
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Forty new fairy tales, and the list on the front cover gave the names of Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Joy Williams, and Francine Prose, to name just a few. Oh, the sweet anticipation such a book can bring! I looked at it lovingly, relishing in knowing I had more than five hundred pages filled with magical stories.

I should probably state right now I enjoyed most of the stories in the book but not all. A couple of them I didn’t finish. There was something about the setting, or in
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Liked 3 out of the 40 stories. Why was this collection like this?!
a few notes before we begin:

1. my rating was an average of how I felt about the story as a whole and how it was as a retelling. if it was too close or too far from the original, I took off points
2. I'm very particular about fairy tale retellings so I might be a bit harsher than the average reader of this one
3. I tried to make it through each story but if I really couldn't get into it, I just skipped it. life's too short.

my thoughts on each story individually + a rating (out of 5 stars)

pelican c
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Depending on what day and story you caught me, I either loved this anthology or absolutely hated it. I planned to make a list of the stories I preferred best, but so much time has passed that I would rather spend those extra few minutes reading. I will know to turn to this anthology whenever wanting to read that story of mermaids that I really like, or to read my favorite short story -- Pleasure Boating in Lithuya Bay, or to remember the stories about the juniper tree and the wild swans. I'll al ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This was a book I had to force myself to finish. I hate to let a book defeat me, and that's how I felt trying to get through the more than 500 pages in Bernheimer's collection. The premise of the book is 40 new fairy tales by well-known, contemporary authors. Unfortunately, I wasn't sold. I LOVE fairy tales, and always have, but these stories mostly just bored me.

To give a couple of examples:

"Bluebeard in Ireland" is the story of a couple on vacation in Ireland. He's older, and has been married
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm not through with this book yet, but so far, this has to be one of the most imaginative books I've read in literally, years!!

It's a collection of "new" Fairy Tales, but such widely diverse authors as Neil Gaiman, Neil LaBute, and Joyce Carol Oates --- absolutely fascinating!!

Just one quick note, after finishing this delightful collection -- Read it, there's at least one story, or play on a "fairy tale" that you'll never forget!~
When I first heard about this book, it sounded like a cool collection of dark fairy tale retellings. There were some great stories, especially toward the beginning. Unfortunately some of these did not feel like fairy tales at all.

My favorites: "I'm Here" by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, "Snow White, Rose Red" by Lydia Millet, "Teague O'Kane and the Corpse" by Chris Adrian, and "A Case Study of Emergency Room Procedure adn Risk Managment by Hospital Staff Members in the Urban Facility" by Stacey Richt
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this anthology, but it just felt a little too--"grimdark," sort of edgy-for-the-sake-of-edgy. Some of the stories were really great (A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin, The Mermaid in the Tree, What the Conch Shell Sings When the Body Is Gone, Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay, The Color Master, The White Cat, Blue-Bearded Lover, Psyche's Dark Night--and the Color Master is by far the best of all of these), but the bad stories were really, really bad.

I have very r
Miss Bookiverse
I can't get over how disappointing this was. I love fairy tales and retellings of them, this book had my name all over it, but out of the 40 stories I only really liked 6. Most of them were too gritty and bleak, often vulgar, there was nothing magical or warm, something I associate with fairy tales, about them. Some of them were too confusing and others simply boring. If you enjoy retellings in the vein of Michael Cunningham, you might like it more than I did.

The 6 stories I found enjoyable:
- Ba
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Get Your Shorts i...: General Discussion (No Spoilers) 2 10 Oct 28, 2013 11:52AM  
Get Your Shorts i...: Whitework (Spoilers) 1 4 Sep 30, 2013 01:09PM  
Get Your Shorts i...: Ever After (Spoilers) 1 2 Sep 30, 2013 01:08PM  
Get Your Shorts i...: Coyote Takes Us Home (Spoilers) 1 4 Sep 30, 2013 01:07PM  
Get Your Shorts i...: I am Anjuhimeko (Spoilers) 1 3 Sep 30, 2013 01:07PM  
Get Your Shorts i...: First Day of Snow (Spoilers) 1 1 Sep 30, 2013 01:06PM  
Get Your Shorts i...: The Story of the Mosquito (Spoilers) 1 1 Sep 30, 2013 01:05PM  

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Kate Bernheimer is the author of three novels and the story collection Horse, Flower, Bird, as well as children's books. Among other books, she edited the World Fantasy Award winning My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the forthcoming xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths.

Other books in the series

New Fairy Tales (2 books)
  • xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths

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