Giedre's Reviews > A Wild Swan: And Other Tales

A Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham
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really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, short-stories, fairy-tales, 2010s, american, 21st-century, adventure
Recommended for: those who want to revisit their childhood favorite fairy tales

“A Wild Swan: And Other Tales” is not a typical book by Michael Cunningham. It’s a colorful collection of fairy tales, revisited by the author, and presented to us from completely new perspectives. I was curious before starting the book if I was going to be able to recall any of the stories or characters from the fairy tales chosen by Cunningham, as the last time I remember myself reading a fairy tale was definitely more than twenty years ago. I did however find all the stories familiar and enjoyed the chance to conjure them up from the far-away corners of my memory.

If you ever had a chance to re-read any of your childhood favorite fairy tales, you’ll probably agree that a lot of times they seem illogical and cruel, and that their characters do things whose motivation is utterly unclear, although these are never questioned by a child. Cunningham questions the irrationality of the fairy tales and masterly invents the motivation and background behind all these actions and events we used to take for granted. Have you ever asked yourself why could a gnome want a queen’s firstborn child? And how did the life of the guy who retained a swan’s wing instead of his arm looked like? Cunningham places the characters and the events of the fairy tales in the modern times. If magic can happen at all, why does it have to be in the past? Why do we always see fairy tales as something that has happened really long ago?

Another aspect of these revisited fairy tales I really loved was the author’s ability to tell them from totally unexpected perspectives. He gives voices to both good and evil characters, main and secondary or unnoticed ones.

A witty and entertaining read.

Note: I obtained this book through NetGalley.
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Reading Progress

December 29, 2015 – Shelved
December 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 6, 2016 – Started Reading
January 6, 2016 – Shelved as: netgalley
January 6, 2016 – Shelved as: short-stories
January 6, 2016 – Shelved as: fairy-tales
January 9, 2016 – Shelved as: 2010s
January 9, 2016 – Shelved as: american
January 9, 2016 – Shelved as: 21st-century
January 9, 2016 – Shelved as: adventure
January 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Dolors (new)

Dolors I haven't read anything by this author but you make this collection sound highly appealing, Giedre. It amazes me that fairy tales might be so somber and menacing in retrospect and how children do not even question the absolute evil that is ever present in these stories . Blixten's "Gothic Tales" and Byatt's "The children's book" would be good reading companions for this collection. Great to see you writing, Giedre, hope you started off 2016 on the right foot!;P

Giedre Dolors wrote: "I haven't read anything by this author but you make this collection sound highly appealing, Giedre. It amazes me that fairy tales might be so somber and menacing in retrospect and how children do n..."

It's nice to read you again, Dolors, and thank you for visiting. It's only my second book by Cunningham so far, but I am looking forward to reading more. I would definitely recommend "A Home at the End of the World", which is the other book I've read, if you ever get to reading him.
Thank you so much for the recommendations of the other reading companions to Cunningham's book of tales. I'll look them up as well, and Byatt is one of the writers in my to-read list already.
I've just discovered NetGalley (yeah, I know I'm slow), and got a couple of books I am really looking forward to reading (including Julian Barnes' latest book, The Noise of Time), so I hope that it will get me back to writing reviews, as you are kind of required to do so in exchange of the books. I somehow never expected to find Barnes, Cunningham and other great authors there :)

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