21 January, 2010

Causing thoughtfulness

Over here, Niall Harrison takes Seven Bites of Tender Morsels, and chews them over thoroughly. I never thought of my blandification of Liga's heaven-world as a swipe at the Grimms' makeover of Stahl's 'The Ungrateful Dwarf', but it could be nothing else:
Re-reading “Snow White and Rose Red” once done with Tender Morsels, it is a real joy to discover how clever, and how sly, Lanagan’s revisioning is. The spine of the Grimm tale – two girls, living with their mother in a cottage in the forest, have encounters with a friendly bear and a wicked, treasure-hungry dwarf – is retained in Tender Morsels. But in Lanagan’s novel, the realm in which this takes place is a secondary world, a personal heaven to which the mother, Liga, escapes from a horrific childhood in a “real” world: this is both a necessary escape, and the sort of sanitisation of reality performed by the Brothers Grimm on the later editions of the tales they collected. The bear (multiple bears, actually, in the novel) and the dwarf are intrusions from the “real” world, and eventually harbingers of heaven’s end; and, most importantly, the novel shows us the story before and after the fairytale.
It's a calm, intelligent review. Most startling, though, (esp. to my critics) is the final sentence: 'If you’re looking for a guide to living in the world, you could do worse than look at Tender Morsels.'


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