Tag Archives: fables

Foxy Aesop: On the Edge by Suniti Namjoshi

Foxy Aesop Title: Foxy Aesop: On the Edge
Author: Suniti Namjoshi
Publisher: Zubaan
ISBN: 978-9385932427
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

I love Suniti Namjoshi’s books. They are not what you expect or have been conditioned to expect and that’s the primary reason I love what she writes. Her works are heady, over the top, campy even, but above all honest and feminist to the core. She doesn’t mince her words and that’s the only way to write in my opinion. “Foxy Aesop” reminded me of her Fabulist Feminist tales, but more than anything I was drawn into her world so strong that I just didn’t want it to end. Her world is weird (and all weird works for me in more than one way), intriguing and mind you she is one writer who will not let you have it easy. Her prose evokes thoughts but naturally and that’s that.

“Foxy Aesop” to me was everything rolled into one – a fantastical story, a story so quirky that I laughed straight out loud in so many places, a satire as well – something that crescendos into something unusual, only leaving the reader with the hope that she will write something similar. “Foxy Aesop” may suggest that the book is about Aesop, but it is actually about Sprite, a fabulist from the future who transports herself to the century of Aesop and that’s where the book begins. Aesop, on the other hand is busy writing his fables and trying to make ends meet. The book is about fables at the core – what they do to the moral fabric of our society and do they play any role in it at all or not. Sprite and Aesop make for delightful characters in this fantastical piece by Namjoshi.

Namjoshi’s writing is irreverent and that is another quality I love about her prose. She has literally taken the concept of fables and turned it on its head. She makes you rethink and evaluate those morals all over again in light of our world and what we think of them at all – if we do that is.

“Foxy Aesop” is a book that is witty, unusual, full of quirk and life. Suniti Namjoshi has done it again, as always, and not just in storytelling but creating it in a dimension probably unheard of to many. Read it for its fabulousness. Just go read it.

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Fables: Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham ; Illustrated by James Jean and Alex Maleev

Fables - Volume 1 - Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham Title: Fables: Volume 1: Legends in Exile
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrated by: James Jean and Alex Maleev
Publisher: DC Comics
ISBN: 9781401237554
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels, Fantasy
Pages: 144
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Anything to do with fairy tales and I am sold hook, line and sinker. There is not much needed for me then to read the book or series or graphic novel, no matter how good or bad it is. I am a sucker for fairy tales and more so their spin-offs.

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Bill Willingham’s “Fables” was always on my to-be-read list, in fact so much so that I had read four volumes and left it at that. I wonder why though. May be I was not ready for the series then. It happens to the best of readers – you aren’t just ready for the book at a point and then when you are, you just cannot stop reading it.

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The storyline of “Fables” in the broad sense is this: Fairy-tale characters have been ousted from their lands by an entity known as the Adversary, and they are therefore forced into exile. Some of them live in New York City, hiding their true selves from the world. They own a secret society called Fabletown.

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In the first volume, we learn about the murder of Rose Red, Snow White’s sister and how the big bad wolf known as Bigby solves the case.

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I loved the way how the old tales were revisited and how you can see these characters with a lot of shades of grey. For instance, Snow White has been divorced from Prince Charming and how Bluebeard is trying very hard to mend his ways but no one trusts him.

More so, the illustrations are fantastically done, keeping in mind the intricacy of each scene and the fairy tale reference or context. I highly recommend this series and already about to finish the second volume. One thing is for sure that you cannot look at fairy tales and their characters the same way after reading this series.

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Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile (New Edition)

387 Short Stories: Day 16: Story 16: The Star by Alasdair Gray

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Title: The Star
Author: Alasdair Gray
Taken from the collection: Unlikely Stories, Mostly

Alasdair Gray. A name not known to me till I read his short story today. It always feels nice to explore a new writer and his stories. “The Star” by was today’s story. It is a bittersweet story of what happens when a boy finds a star in his backyard – how is he fascinated by it and what is the outcome when he goes to school with it.

The story is simply written. It has a fable like quality to it. It makes you believe in stars all over again and the power that they possess. I most certainly think that I will read more by this author. I love reading authors who keep it simple and tell it directly.

Book Review: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Title: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
Author: Ben Loory
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0143119500
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 224
Price: $15.00
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day is a strangely compelling little book. Contained within it are thirty-nine short short stories (one is only three sentences long) and a longer fortieth story, grudgingly appended by the author.

Usually with short story collections I want to read the stories one at a time, to savor them. I couldn’t do that with Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day though. Loory’s stories–the publisher calls them contemporary fables and I think that’s apt–are compulsively readable. They are poignant and unsettling, simple and profound. And I wanted to eat them all up!

So of the stories I liked better than others. For example: The Book, a story that teaches you to use your imagination. The Octopus, a story that shows you that you can always return home. Also there was the story, The End of It All, about a husband and a wife, where the wife is taken by an alien. The man searches all over to find her to no end. Though, the man never finds his wife, he would not trade anything in the world for the time that he did get to spend with her. Of course, there were some stories that I did not like as well. Than there were the dark stories. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day has a little bit of everything for everyone to enjoy. Don’t be fooled by the title of this collection of stories and the stories can be read any time of the day or night.

I think saying they are reworked versions of age old stories is doing the collection a disservice, but my brain made connections to The Ugly Ducking, The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes among others, enough to feel that Loory was inspired by them.

I suppose this is one of those books you’re either going to love or hate. It brought a smile to my face and I was reluctant to put it down so it’s safe to say I loved it. I’m sure there’s lots of analysis that could be done but I’m going to leave it at that.

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The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas is a collection of eight modern fairy tales. In each of the novellas, a sense of the fantastic intertwines with the mundane, sometimes enchantingly, sometimes crudely but still beguilingly.

The title story, for instance, transports the reader into the midst of a women’s gulag during Soviet rule. Tatyana and others who bunk together are determined to smuggle out messages to their children — all daughters, coincidentally or not. The women naturally worry about what they should write their children who are now most likely wards of the State. With a limit on the precious amount they may write, they agonize over what is most important. Then, the prisoner considered by the others to be “the most scatter-brained of them all, the most sentimental, the least headstrong” stuns everyone by being the first to get her message down. She is at utter peace with her choice of words. The others can’t help feeling jealous and very curious. What did she write?

“The Most Beautiful Book in the World” packs a nice emotional punch. The conclusion, in its Epilogue in the year 2005, imparts a fitting epiphany about how we human beings can communicate immensities with but a few choice words. It is a lovely comedy in the classic definition of the term: there is a triumph over adverse circumstances.

Immediately before the gulag folktale, the collection’s longest selection (thirty pages) has its turn. The title character in “Odette Toulemonde” has “a talent: joy.” Odette excitedly goes to a bookstore to buy the new book of her favorite author, Balthazar Balsan, and to have him autograph it for her. Odette, a lower middle class widow with two jobs gets so tongue-tied when she meets him that she can’t even speak her own name properly. Balsan’s books, she believes, showed her that ” ‘ in every life, no matter how miserable, there are reasons to be happy, to laugh, to love.’ ” Balthazar, a wealthy man with a troubled marriage and young son who is taking too much after his old man, goes through his own identity crisis soon after this book signing. In true fairy tale form, he and Odette meet again. But when their attachment may be going too far, Odette tells Balthazar, ” ‘Our paths may cross, but we can no longer meet each other.” Will that be the end of them, or are they destined for more?


“Odette Toulemonde” tries to point the way to balanced living. In “Every Reason to be Happy” a woman discovers her husband isn’t the man she thought and she has to decide how she will handle the startling revelations. In “The Forgery” the ability to trust is tested by two women with very different results. And what would any set of fairy tales be without “A Barefoot Princess” who may not be what she seems?

The leitmotif being forwarded in THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD by the author, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, is, arguably, that regardless of our histories, regardless of our economic status, regardless of our pettiness and self-centeredness, life often hands out teachable moments that can either make or break us. Truth, beauty, and especially happiness are ours if we possess the strength to see them everywhere.

Playwright, novelist, and short story/novella writer Schmitt, informs the reader in his Postscript, dated August 15, 2006, that he used free minutes between directing the screen version, Odette Toulemonde (original French ONLY Version No English Options)(for which he had also penned the screenplay), to write these stories. He explains that he’d been carrying them around in his “mind for a long time.” So, Schmitt didn’t have the luxury of endless hours in which to fine-tune his pacing or his prose. Although the plot ideas were pre-thought, his execution was impromptu. This unfinished quality accents each of the eight stories, and this insight about how these stories were written adds an intrinsic value to their recurrent “draft” feeling.

The back cover lauds Schmitt as “one of Europe’s most popular and best-selling authors.” Europa Editions is the first to publish short stories/novellas of his, translated by Alison Anderson. Schmitt’is fables — his fairy tales — give a tantalizing taste, but leave this reader wanting more. Some of his plays are available in English (Schmitt Plays: One (Contemporary Dramatists) (v. 1)), as is one other collection of novellas (Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran & Oscar and the Lady in Pink) but what about his novels and other short stories? Perhaps we’ll see more of this author very soon…

Most Beautiful Book in the World The: 8 Novellas; Schmitt, Eric-Emmanuel; Europa Editions; $15.00