Disfigured: On Fairy tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc (Coach House Books 2020)
Reviewed by Katie Vogel
Within the first essay of Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space, I encountered a Joan Didion quote with which I am familiar. It is a quote that exemplifies what Amanda Leduc does in this book, which is as much an exploration of the ways that Western fairy tales reinforce and embody beliefs about disability and happiness as it is a retelling of her own story as a disabled person. It is a reminder that the stories we tell, why we tell them, and who is or is not included in them matters.
The quote is: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
Likes by Sarah shun-lien bynum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2020)
Reviewed by Lisa Slage-Robinson
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is all grown up. In what may seem like a departure from her trademark whimsy, Likes, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction, is a collection of nine stories, mostly grounded in reality, that dwell in the concerns of mid-career professionals, their affairs, infertility and child-rearing. The O’Henry Award winning story, “Julia and Sunny,” for example, laments the disintegrating marriage of a perfect couple.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead Books 2020)
Reviewed by Angela Gualtieri
Tales have passed down between generations for as long as mankind has been alive. These stories helped infuse the foundation of different cultures. Some tell of missing beans and talking animals, while others mention the nightly selection of new brides. And some tell of gingerbread.
Northwood by Maryse Meijer (Catapult, 2018)
Reviewed by Michelle Mitchell-Foust
Where to begin? Some novels, upon first reading, begin a return.
The return I make when I read Maryse Mejia’s Northwood unravels as I keep reading. I am driven to return to a place and time, to a person, not merely to remember. And I am driven to “answer” the novel….
One “answer” to the novel Northwood is a return to a bundle of leaves, a bundle of love letters.
It was our pleasure to interview award-winning graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg, a young British talent whose tales from the fictional world of Early Earth create spiritual, historical, and mythic space for women. We talked about new projects, the role that sisterhood plays in her work, and snagged a few book recommendations.
One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown and Co., 2016)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
Before I begin, I should admit that I am absolutely the intended audience for Isabel Greenberg’s latest graphic novel One Hundred Nights of Hero. It is a book which revolves around stories and the women who tell them, and as a poet and long-time reader currently making her living as a children’s librarian, it’s not exactly a wonder that I’d be tickled by this book. That being said, I find that the people who enjoy reading book reviews tend to be those similarly pleased by books that valorize story-telling (i.e. writers, librarians, peddlers of books in all shapes and forms). So I’ll begin, then, by saying that this is a book for story-lovers. It’s littered with tale tales, it’s characters are story-tellers. There is (fortunately) just no avoiding it. Continue reading
Swedish Folk Tales by Elsa Beskow, Anna Wahlenberg, et al., illustrated by John Bauer (Floris Books, 2004)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
When I sat down this weekend to write about John Bauer’s illustrated anthology Swedish Folk Tales, the weather did nothing but cooperate. Snow came down in fist-sized flakes, and we were covered in a thick, wet, white blanket in a matter of hours. Though not quite the dry, bitter cold of a Scandinavian winter, it felt appropriate to write about trolls and blonde maidens in shimmering gowns while the boughs of the evergreens grew heavy with snow. Continue reading