Year’s End

Farewell to the Year of the Unlucky Number–which paradoxically was a heck of a lot better for me than 2012 ever was, so make of that what you will. And to you all, a very belated Chanukah, a mid-stream Merry Christmas (day 7 of 12), and a really rather early Happy New Year 2015.

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been—well, I’ve been sick, honestly. And writing scintillating, sparkling, wonderful blog posts was beyond me as I huddled around, feeling rubbish. As was writing dull, grumpy, turgid, uninteresting blog posts, for that matter.

But this is not a confession of blog-guilt. Nor even a New Year’s Resolution to blog more (which would be the quickest way, I think, to ensure never blogging again). Like the great John McIntyre, I’ve embraced a policy of not blogging unless I have something I want to say. And I usually do, in that sunny, cheery, talkative way I have (“Ha,” say his colleagues, and “Who?” ask his friends). And if this blog has been overly taciturn, blame it chiefly on my increased distaste for wittering, on and offline, and the uncertainty that comes with age that one’s own opinions are really as great as all that. Continue reading

library wall

Whoops! I forgot to mention that, in addition to the story in Enchanted Conversation 2.3, I’ve recently had a wee submission posted on the wonderful Paraxis Library Wall. It’s a companion to Paraxis 02, which looks to be lovely. This zine is rapidly emerging as one of the most unique and important new literary mags out there, so it’s well worth your time to take a browse and lose yourself for a while in wonder.

And for an engaging little puzzle, there will be some sort of nominal prize if you report back in the comments where and how to find my piece on the Library Wall. 😉

The piece itself, I should say, is part of a larger mythos and thus a teaser of things to come.

now my charms are all overthrown

or, Mr Pond in Print and other stories

My esteemed compatriots in the blogalectic, Jenna St Hilaire and Masha, have each written a striking and eloquent engagement with the other’s view on art and beauty and entertainment. I urge you to read both ‘By Any Other Name’ and ‘Words, words, words’. Shakespeare quotations seem to be in season this week, so I’ve adjusted my title accordingly.

And since their posts compliment each other so well, I’m taking the advantage to give you all a respite from my ideas concerning art and nonbeing, and to fill you in on several happenings.

If you ever wondered what fairy tale scholars do all day—well, I guess this won’t help you that much, but I’ve just had an article published at Enchanted Conversation. It’s called, fittingly enough, ‘Enchanted Conversations: The Reverse Adaptation of Fairy Tales in Online Culture’, and you can read it here. I originally presented it at the Never-Ending Stories children’s literature conference at Ghent University, and a heavily revised and expanded version of it is forthcoming next year in an academic anthology of the same name.

Not only that, but I’m delighted to tell you that Harry Potter for Nerds (Unlocking, 2011) is now available for purchase on (and, for my British readers). It looks like Travis Prinzi has pulled off yet another winner of an anthology. I’ve got a chapter in, called ‘“Just Behind the Veil”: Death in Harry Potter and the Fairy Tales of George MacDonald’. Do pop round to let me know what you think once you’ve read it.

And then, this:

Wolf had heard scary tales about this hill. Stories of blue elf-fires, burning at the mouths of long-abandoned mineshafts and tunnels. Stories of bogeymen and ghosts.

Up on the very top, he had heard there was a road. A road leading nowhere, a road no one used. For if anyone was so bold as to walk along it, especially at night, he’d hear the clamour of hounds and the blowing of horns, the cracking of whips and the rumbling of a cart. And out of the dark would burst the Devil’s own dog pack, dashing beside a black wagon drawn by goats with fiery eyes, crammed full of screaming souls bound for the pits of Hell…

That chilling passage comes from the critically-acclaimed Dark Angels [The Shadow Hunt] (HarperCollins, 2010) by Paradoxes friend and regular Katherine Langrish. She’s just released the book trailer, and rather than embed it here for your viewing pleasure, I’m going to send you all to go watch it at Katherine’s blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles. Because if you watch it over there, you might wind up winning three signed copies of the book.

Katherine writes breathtaking and eldritch stories might be impossible to describe without using Lovecraft, Wynne Jones, and Dahl as adjectives. Her deep knowledge of folkloric tradition and oral storytelling combines with historical accuracy to create a rich and enchanting read. Add to that characters that are deeply and sensitively drawn, and—why don’t we just plan a group outing to Waterstone’s or Borders right now and have done? If—as might be the case, airfare proves too expensive at short notice, then we can be comforted that these books are available on Amazon, too.

And now it’s a sunny day in Scotland, so I tarry here no longer. Whatever you read this weekend, read well.

the how and the why

Today sees the Royal Visit of HRH Prince William and Ms. Kate Middleton to the University of St Andrews, and, in a fluke of history, finds me attending seminars on the other side of town.

Since the Royal Visit is getting a lot of attention everywhere else in the media, and in fact you’re probably watching the festivities on the telly right now, I thought you’d  like me to tell you about the seminars I’m attending.

You’re welcome.

OK—I just won’t even bother you with the morning seminar.* But the afternoon seminar sent me on a paradoxical quest to the library yesterday. The quest was simple. Find a newspaper article—said the seminar leader—derived from your field of research. Then find the academic piece of research the news article was derived from, and compare. So (the example said) find a Times article about findings originally presented in Nature.

Simple enough. Every major newspaper has an Arts section, right? I trotted happily down to the library to grab my favourite broadsheets. How difficult can it be to find an article about books?

Not difficult at all.

Except for the small bother that I couldn’t find anything.

Continue reading

deadline post

I’m on deadline this week, and not where I’d like to be in that madness, so you get this post. Which is essentially an evasion of posting.

Since there seemed to be a great deal of interest in my reading of Cinderella (I won’t trackback—just scroll down), I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on these posts from Paradoxes regular Kate Wolford.

  • In ‘Cinderella: A Real Do It Herselfer,’ Kate defends the world’s favourite heroine as the ideal heroine of the classic fairy tale—plucky, shrewd, and adventurous.
  • In addition, Kate asks ‘Just How Therapeutic Should Fairy Tales Be?’ Perhaps less than the pedants think, and more than people expect. The article is worth reading just to get to the Jewish Proverb at the end, which should be the guiding light of fairy tale scholarship: ‘Don’t ask questions of fairy tales.’

Also, if you happen to be anywhere Glasgow this Christmas season, stop by to see rising artist Robert Powell’s Christmas show. That will be nothing but unforgettable. Also your chance to buy a set of early Powells (yes, it will be an investment).

And now it’s the last night of Chanukah, so light the chanukiah and enjoy its brilliance, and a plate of latkes. May you rejoice this evening of dedication. Peace to you all, and chag sameach.