We’re all familiar with the Grimm-style fairy tales, with their evil stepmothers and imperiled princesses. But a new collection of 19th century Bavarian folk tales has been discovered, edited, and now released in English for the first time, and they’re darker, dirtier, and involve more gender-bending than the Grimm tales. Salon talks with the tales’ translator, Maria Tatar, about their history, importance, and “the surprising ways they upend our long-standing notions of the roles of heroes and heroines in some of Europe’s oldest and most popular stories.”
One consequence of creating a beloved show is that you’ve got to deal with superficial paeans to it. David Simon has to know this, but he still seems cranky in this interview. Of course I’m not saying he can’t be chagrined by Grantland or Vulture’s recent TV brackets (which Simon singled out in subsequent remarks), but when he says he’s “it’s wearying” for people “to be picking [The Wire] apart now like it’s a deck of cards or like they were there the whole time or they understood it the whole time,” it’s a bit harder to take his side, and you feel like he hasn’t watched Erlend Lavik’s sophisticated and thorough video essay about The Wire‘s visual style. Surely analyses like this (or Žižek‘s, which we’ve mentioned before) deserve due credit.
New releases this week include the much-hyped The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I. Also out in nonfiction is President Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit), as reviewed by the New York Times, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and, for hip-hop fans, Jay-Z’s memoir Decoded.
Is Sergio de la Pava‘s A Naked Singularity the first great self-published novel of the new century? Aren’t you at least a little bit curious?
Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
New this week: All That Is by James Salter, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn, The Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich, and Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic.
A lot is written about artists just starting their careers, and about those artists with a lifetime of work to look back over, but in a piece for The Enemy Barry Schwabasky considers the difficulty of being somewhere in the middle of an artistic career. After all, “most artists do, for better or worse, live through what’s come to be known as their midcareer. It’s just that they don’t often do so with ease. … The middle of the journey sometimes seems to be all about losing the way.”