Fairy tales for grown ups

cover of prince of dreamsSome stories we love hearing over and over again. Folktales told worldwide over the centuries have amazing similarities of theme, style and even in presentation. Some of the most dramatic fairy tales capture our hearts and imaginations even today. Sometimes authors re-imagine than old story from another perspective. At times authors prefer to write new stories using riffs from established tales or using an old-fashioned storyteller’s style that encourages us to settle back and enjoy the telling.

Here are four new spins on fairy tales many of us recognize from our childhood days:

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress

image-of-dai-sijie-courtesy-of-random-houseSince the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, numerous authors have engaged in profoundly depicting the passage of Chinese history. Among a great number of novels, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie definitely deserves to be mentioned.

Originally written in French, this novel tells the story of two teenage boys who are sent to a peasant village on Phoenix Mountain in the Sichuan province for re-education. Labeled as bourgeois doctors’ sons, they are assigned to carry pails of excrement up a hill everyday and are also sent to transport coals with their backs in a small insecure local coal mine. They somehow survive from the extreme hardship due to their skills in story telling. The village headman commands them to go watch movies in town and come back to retell the plots and dialogues of the movies to the entire villagers once in a while. The beautiful daughter of the famous Continue reading “Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress”

Found in the stacks: Women who boat & cook!

Wandering through the closed stacks at Central, I stumbled across a classic in the maritime genre – a book that could be considered timeless: The Woman’s Guide to Boating & Cooking!

Let’s dive deep into the wonderful world of yachting courtesy of Lael Morgan:

 A recipe for Rock Lobster-Langouste begins:

               “ Kill Lobster “

                        (Couldn’t I just maim it?)

Some other tasty dishes include:

  • Pressure-Cooked Goat Roast (if you are a troll and live under a bridge).
  • Country Captain (if you are a cannibal).
  • Blushing Bunny (because a sad bunny is not as flavorful).
  • Beef ‘N Beer (or as guys like to call it, Sunday).

In the now-we-know-why-folks-get-seasick department: Continue reading “Found in the stacks: Women who boat & cook!”

Who was Shakespeare?

image-of-shakespeares-head-in-text-courtesy-of-yelnocWhile the academic world is solidly behind William Shakespeare of Stratford, such notables as Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Derek Jacobi, Walt Whitman and Orson Welles have questioned whether he could have written the works credited to him. Among those who suspect that Shakespeare of Stratford was not the author of the plays and sonnets, the candidates who have been put forth as the real Shakespeare include Sir Frances Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, among others.
There are a number of Oxford titles, either to be praised or condemned, depending on one’s leanings; I suggest two titles Continue reading “Who was Shakespeare?”

Books for new moms

New moms barely have time to bathe or eat. How could they possibly have time to read?! They make the time, that’s how — during their children’s naps, while nursing or as they wait in line at the doctor’s or the grocery store. Reading other moms’ stories, whether fact or fiction, can ease the isolation that new moms often feel and help them stay sane during that surreal time of early parenthood.

If you’re a mom, we wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day and offer the following reading suggestions that provide various views of motherhood.


Guarding the Moon: A Mother’s First Year by Francesca Lia Block
Block, author of the popular Weetzie Bat books for young adults, revels in the intense love she feels for her newborn daughter and reflects on her new life as a mother.

The Big Rumpus: A Mother’s Tale from the Trenches by Ayun Halliday
This thirty-something, hip mother Continue reading “Books for new moms”