unsettling wonder

Household Tales: A Read Through


 Something Completely Different 

illus-155this week has seen the deadlines swarm, in a very good way. Good in the way bees swarm round a marauding bear. So ‘unsettling wonder’ has been pushed back, possibly to appear in modified on anti-wednesday.

But do not despair! If you, like me, look forward with mingled eagerness and dread to see what strange discursion into the world for fairy tales will appear on this site of a Monday, despair not! I have an article for your perusal.

Paradoxes regular katew is the editor of Enchanted Conversation, and she very kindly invited me to guest blog for the journal. So that’s where you find me today. I’ve called the guest article ‘Snow White and the Philosopher’s Stone,’ though I can’t take credit for the title. It may or may not be part of something which I’ll tell you about eventually.

Go off and read it. Then please come back and answer me two questions:

1) Does it make critical sense? and

2) would you be interested in reading more about fairy tales and alchemy?

Challenges, cross-examinations, and interrogations all very welcome. Enjoy.

Mr Pond in Print, and the matter of whimsy

If you’ve not heard already, you might be interested to know that my poem ‘Rampion’ just won the latest contest at Enchanted Conversation. It’s a ‘Rapunzel’ variant, told from the prince’s point of view.

It’s also (surprise!) my first published poetry, so I’m thrilled. I’d be keen to see what sort of critical observations you make—it’s a complex work, and there’s a lot there to find. Please do let me know what you think.

In other news, my esteemed colleague Daniel Gabelman has yet again continued his project of overturning the way we think about the way we think, and imagine. The latest instalment is a short article on whimsy, which not only had me wanting to cheer, but is, I think, quietly restructuring my own theories about writing and related things. Danny’s just that kind of writer—very much a name to watch.

Here’s a quotation to tantalise you into reading the whole article:

Whimsy is the gamesome servant of the imagination.

Generally speaking, whimsy is related to Aristotle’s principle of association or what Coleridge terms ‘fancy’.  It is a frolicsome cousin of memory, the power by which the mind makes connections with the past. Instead of associating the obvious and the similar, however, whimsy combines the unexpected and the disparate.  Whimsy does not connect flies with moths but with children’s toys as in Lewis Carroll’s rocking-horse-fly.

‘Good poets’, says W. H. Auden, ‘have a weakness for bad puns’.

Question, comments, critical analyses, and new ideas are, as always, welcome.

enchanted retellings

A review of Enchanted Conversation, Volume 1, Issue 4

by Donglu Yu, http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=5132 It’s always satisfying for me to read new fairy tale explorations. It’s even more satisfying when those explorations are from Paradoxes regulars. Issue 4 of Enchanted Conversation features a piece from Eric, who’s been commenting here from the first post. And the magazine itself is largely the idea of Kate Wolford, the editor and a faithful Paradoxes reader. Or perhaps I should say I’m a faithful reader of hers? It sort of happened at the same time, and these things are inevitably subjective.

Issue 4, Hansel and Gretel, is the final issue of a triumphant first volume. It demonstrates a firmer, easier control of the subject matter than in previous issues. Despite diverse and sharply different narrative voices within the issue, it reads as a unified whole, with a striking and appealing harmony. In fact, that harmony is both the issue’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

Continue reading

enter the enchanted conversation


Fairy tale enthusiasts of all kinds, rejoice. The highly anticipated fourth issue of Enchanted Conversation is live online. It continues their ongoing project of reimagining fairy tales through weird, beautiful, troubling, or hilarious retellings.

If you’re not familiar with this wonderful online journal, take the time now. Each issue so far has centred around a specific tale, and Issue 4 considers Hansel and Gretel. Each retelling seems to have a different voice and a different perspective; the editorial staff have outdone themselves this time bringing together a tightly unified, well-written, but diverse issue. Ever wonder what wicked witches watch on reality TV? Or what happens to your mind when you live in a house made of gingerbread? Here’s your chance to find out.

This issue is particularly memorable for me, because it features a story from Paradoxes regular Eric, who also happens to be my brother. He doesn’t mind admitting that The White Bird is his first published fiction, but probably won’t tell you that it’s also his first attempt at publishing fiction. It’s a tale that haunts your heart with hope, even while taking away what you thought were your reasons for hope—to give you new ones.

I’ll be posting a full review of Issue 4 next week, but get a head start on the readings, form your own opinions, and enter the enchanted conversation.

Good Sabbath, everyone.