29 May, 2008

The nuns would be proud of me

On the fix, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro reviews The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Margo Lanagan revisits the Bavarian forests of the “Hänsel und Gretel” fairy tale in “The Goosle.” Lanagan takes an already dark story and elevates the darkness tenfold. Let’s just say that the title is not as innocent as it may appear. While in the original, Hänsel held out a bone from the cage in which he was trapped when the witch asked him to hold out his finger, the request and the response in this version are of a more adult nature. Not only do we have murder and attempted cannibalism, but also sexual slavery and bubonic plague to go along with it. Datlow uses the word “vicious” in reference to this story in the introduction; I couldn’t agree more. How deep into depravity the rabbit hole goes I’ll leave the reader to find out. Though I appreciated the creativity and inventiveness on display, I’m not sure the viciousness created a disturbing experience rather than an off-putting one.
Hawr, hawr.


Blogger Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

Maybe that makes me a nun? :-)

No matter my reaction, I know I'm richer for having read "The Goosle" - thank you for writing it and challenging me.

And I'll certainly look on with suspicion at any of my German-speaking friends who start using suspiciously cutesy-sounding epithets in their native tongue...

30 May, 2008 03:53  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Hi Alvaro, and thanks for visiting and commenting! Funny thing - 'The Goosle' was inspired by finding the word 'gunsel' in the dictionary. It's a Yiddish word meaning, as far as I can remember the wording, 'little goose; also, a youth, especially a homosexual youth kept by a tramp'. I was just astounded that the keeping of youths by tramps was somewhere so common that there was a word for it, I had to put it in a story - and then the word 'gunsel' was so much like 'Hansel' that my brain went off in that direction too.

I'm sorry that the garden path I led you up ended at the mudwife's door. ;)

I should warn you, there is also a mudwife in my upcoming novel, which has the beguiling title Tender Morsels - but she's not nearly as monstrous as the 'Goosle' one!

30 May, 2008 09:40  
Blogger Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

That's a really interesting insight into the origin of the story: Curious word + rhyming-similar-sounding word create startling mix. A less creative writer might have been content to write "Gunsel and Grettel" :-) Ok, so now some of the viciousness has been redeemed.

I've recently also come across several instances of writers being inspired by a phrase they misheard or misremembered (eg, Richard Paul Russo with "The Second Descent").

Amazing how the brain makes connections.

I'll keep my eyes (and mouth) open for Tender Morsels.

30 May, 2008 11:10  

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