Those of you with more than a passing familiarity with the Brothers Grimm will know that classic fairy tales were often dark and macabre. They’re considerably more frightening than the sanitized versions we read to our children today. At Salon, Maria Tatar talks to Laura Miller about her translation of The Turnip Princess, a new collection of previously undiscovered fairy tales. Sample quote: “There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms.” You could also read Kirsty Logan on the trouble with fairy tales.
“By running two lives that started from the same point off along divergent tracks, they throw up questions about our uniqueness, and the chances and choices that make us who we are.” On identical twins in literature, from Stephen King to Shakespeare. Also check out Ramona Ausubel’s essay on first children and first novels.
“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
The Harvard Hoaxer‘s not-to-be-missed resume (pdf) includes several impressive under-contract book projects, including The Mapping of an Ideological Demesne; Wampum and the Origins of American Money; and A Short History of North America. Pretty impressive, for a 23-year-old.
“I think that every novelist of the kind of novels that I write has in them maybe one really good book, but the trouble with so many novelists is that they keep on writing novels even when they run out of ideas.” Forrest Gump author Winston Groom on why it’s taken him 20 years to write his new novel. Pair with our recent three-way interview with writers Emily Barton, Alexander Chee, and Whitney Terrell, all of whom needed a decade for their most recent books.
There’s a tiff going on between Ursula le Guin and Kazuo Ishiguro. After le Guin accused Ishiguro of “despising” the fantasy genre, following an interview with the Times in which he wondered aloud if his readers would be prejudiced against his latest book, Ishiguro defended himself, claiming that he is “firmly on the side of the ogres and the pixies.” You can read a full rundown in The Guardian.