The extreme case of reality malnutrition. Leaves those involved in a state of irrevocable joy for all time. Often requires running through fields of daffodils.

John Klima edited this 2011 anthology of contemporary authors retelling classic fairy tales. At 473 pages these 33 stories (not counting the introduction, which is a small fable on its own) make for a big book. This is some great bedtime reading for grown-ups. Some are overly tragic or bawdy or just plain strange. Read them on your own before you think about showing your kids these.

The most disturbing story to me was "Little Red" which riffed on a certain controversial novel by a certain Russian postmodernist to great effect. The most "complete" story would be Gregory Frost's "The Root of the Matter" due to its shifting narration to tell the tale of Rapunzel. Paul Di Fillippo's Ailoura is an interesting science fictional rendition of Puss in Boots.

Rather than attempt to summarize each, I will simply list the contents (author/title) and link to the original source material. Note that some of these stories draw from no particular fairy tale but rather the conventions of the form, in which case I will use the abbreviation OW for "original work".

  1. The Seven Stage a Comeback by Gregory Maguire (OW)
  2. And in Their Glad Rags by Genevieie Valentine (Little Red Riding Hood)
  3. The Sawing Boys by Howard Waldrop (OW)
  4. Bear it away by Michael Cadnum (Goldilocks and the Three Bears)
  5. Mr. Simonelli or the Fair Widower by Susanna Clarke (OW)
  6. The Black Fairy's Curse by Karen Joy Fowler (Sleeping Beauty)
  7. My Life as a Bird by Charles de Lint (OW)
  8. The Night Market by Holly Black (based upon a folk tale from the Philipines)
  9. The Rose in Twelve Petals by Theodora Goss (Sleeping Beauty)
  10. The Red Path by Jim C. Hines Little Red Riding Hood
  11. Blood & Water by Alethea Kontis (The Little Mermaid)
  12. Hansel's Eyes by Garth Nix Hansel and Gretel
  13. He Died That Day, in Thirty Years by Wil McCarthy (Alice in Wonderland a la Philip K. Dick)
  14. Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen (Snow White)
  15. The Rose Garden by Michelle West (Beauty and the Beast)
  16. The Little Magic Shop by Bruce Sterling (OW)
  17. Black Feather by K. Tempest Bradford
  18. Fifi's Tail by Alan Rodgers
  19. The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link (OW)
  20. Ashputtle by Peter Straub
  21. The Emperor's New (and Improved) Clothes by Leslie What (the Emperor's New Clothes)
  22. Pinocchio's Diary by Robert J. Howe (Pinocchio)
  23. Little Red by Wendy Wheeler (Little Red Riding Hood)
  24. The Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman (OW)
  25. The Price by Patricia Briggs (Rumplestiltskin)
  26. Ailoura by Paul Di Fillippo (Puss in Boots)
  27. The Farmer's Cat by Jeff VanderMeer (OW)
  28. The Root of the Matter by Gregory Frost (Rapunzel)
  29. Like a Red, Red Rose by Susan Wade (OW)
  30. Chasing America by Josh Rountree (Paul Bunyan)
  31. Stalking Beans by Nancy Kress (Jack and the Beanstalk)
  32. Big Hair by Esther Friesner (Rapunzel)
  33. The Return of the Dark Children by Robert Coover (The Pied Piper)

All in all, this is a truly solid collection. Most of the stories I enjoyed very much; there were only a few which I found to be unfinishable. Recommended.

Published by Nightshade Books

ISBN 978-1-59780-220-8

What does happily ever after look like to YOU?

I view happily ever after much as I view the concept of Heaven: obviously impossible and anyhow, BORING.

In the Disney animations, we never see a couple who is living happily ever after, do we? I like the adventure fantasies more: WHAT adventure comes NEXT! What would living happily ever after look like and does it look the same for everyone?

Me, I want to work and write forever and have friends. Maybe a partner though since women are supposed to want an older more experienced (and in romances rich) male to carry them off, that seems unlikely. Besides, I want a partner with mutual respect, a lot of fun and silliness and I am good with discussion and thinking and disagreeing.

And heaven... sit on some cloud in a gown and play the harp? At least hell would be interesting. Plus most people are there if any of the self-righteous I am saved religions are right, and anyhow I'd rather come back and keep working. Infinite happiness? Aren't all emotions part of us and part of the universe? Let us be whole.

BQ 192

When you think of the context of the original Fairy Tales, an age of brutality, plagues, famine, huge infant mortality,etc, you'd be forgiven for wondering if anyone at all was happy even briefly. Yet that was the age that spawned the glory that was the Renaissance. There were problems, and people managed to overcome them- with courage, ingenuity and optimism. Look at Chartres Cathedral if you don't believe me,143.html

I wonder sometimes if 'living happily ever after' simply means what it says. I've seen a few people who've lived to 100 plus, and that is exactly what they seem to be doing- living happily; i.e, living life head-on and meeting challenges, learning, exploring, ...ever after.

"... and they all lived happily ever after."

The famous stock closing phrase from many fairy tales today has replaced the older "... happily until their deaths" in most English versions. This is arguably because mentioning the characters' death somewhat conflicts with the concept of a happy ending, and because the young children listening to the stories are not supposed to be confronted with the mortality of their beloved characters.

At least concerning the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, it's remarkable that one of the two most used German original stock closing phrases is "... und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie noch heute" ("...and if they haven't died, they are still living today"). The phrase mentions the possibility of the characters' death, but cleverly avoids making a definitive statement about it.

Because of the playfully tautological nature of that sentence, in my experience it may actually be preferred as an ending by most kids vis-à-vis the more generic "und sie lebten glücklich (und zufrieden) bis ans Ende (ihrer Tage)", which translates as "and they lived happily (and contentedly) until the end (of their days)".

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