Friday, April 5, 2013

Once Upon a Time month...an extremely rambly update the first...

My reading began with Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. I was pretty certain going in that I would love this book, after all, what's not to love--Philip Pullman and fairy tales--pretty much a no-brainer. Ahhh, but I discovered that I not only love this book, I am utterly enchanted by it. Enchanted.

I wish very much that I was more knowledgeable about fairy tales, but the fact is that I'm almost afraid to talk about reading them at all for fear of embarrassing myself. It's really only in the past few years that I've begun reading them at all; they were not really a part of my childhood. But I find such delight in them. And I love them in every which way they are told, from the old "originals" right up to the modern fill-in-the-gaps, explore-the-motivations, see-it-from-another-angle retellings that are so popular today.

Anyway, back to the book...I've now read the first ten tales. I easily could have ignored all my responsibilities and curled up in my chair and devoured the whole thing by now, but with a great show of willpower, I've made myself slow down. I just want this book to last. In one of the myriad of games I play with myself, I decided that I get to read ten tales and then I must set the book aside and read another book. Hopefully this will still allow me to finish it by the end of the month however.

When I first heard of this book, I assumed that this was a book of reinventions. It wasn't until I read Ana's incredibly wonderful review that I realized they were not. Instead they are a selection of Grimm's tales (50 of them, I believe) told by Philip Pullman. In other words, they are the same stories as one would read in one of the versions of fairy tales that the Grimms published but told in Philip Pullman's words. And each story comes with a short commentary afterward by Pullman.

I said earlier that I was enchanted by these tales. And while this is very true, it's an enchantment I can't quite explain. Because nearly all these tales have elements that bother me. They are not the kind of stories I would tell my children with the purpose of exposing them to great moral lessons. The princess in "The Frog King" is a rude, spoiled brat and yet she is rewarded. This goes against my deepest wish for myself and my kiddos in life--BE KIND.

Anyway, of the first ten tales, there were a few widely familiar ones such as "The Frog King," "Rapunzel," and "Hansel and Gretel." While "Hansel and Gretel" is a favorite of mine (largely because of some of the retellings I've fallen in love with, such as "A Delicate Architecture" by Catherynne M. Valente and "Hansel's Eyes," by Garth Nix), I think I was even more taken with a few of the tales that were completely unfamiliar to me. "The Twelve Brothers," "The Three Little Men in the Woods," and "The Three Snake Leaves" all captivated me.

One of the innate qualities of fairy tales is that the characters are more like caricatures. And I believe that is one of the things that makes them so perfect for retellings. Quest for Screen was the perfect impetus to get me to finally view one of these wonderful retellings. During Eva's wonderful visit last November she convinced me that I really needed to watch Once Upon a Time, and while I immediately added it to my instant queue on netflix, I never got around to starting it. Until this week. And then what happened? Well, I gobbled up the entire first season! I was obsessed, I tell you, like the show cast a spell right over me.

I realize that I'm even less adept at discussing movies/TV than I am about books, so trying to explain what it is about this show that stole my heart isn't easy. I loved the characters...all of them, actually. I adore the way that even the "evil" characters are made human. There are reasons and heartbreaks that helped shape the way they behave. Everyone's lives have pain. And I love how the characters all respond differently to it. I love the clever ways in which the writers combined and reimaged stories, like with Belle and Rumpelstiltskin. I love the beautiful scenery. I love that while we see lots of traditional gender roles, we also see them turned upside down. I don't, however, love how white the show is--seriously, this show could be so wonderfully diverse, and it just isn't. (Does season 2 get any better on this front? *fingers crossed*)

And speaking of season 2, I wonder how long it will be until it gets to netflix? While I wait, I think I'm going to start a rewatching of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Actually I did rewatch season 1 not all that long ago...ha, but I don't care--I'm still going to start over from the beginning and hopefully finish all three seasons before the end of the month. Why this sudden urge? I blame Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part One. This is the book I read after finishing my first ten tales. I know I said it of The Promise, but I cannot help but say it again--the way Gene Luen Yang and company have been able to keep these graphic novels true to whole feel of the series simply awes me. The Search, Part One brings me back to the world, and more importantly, to the characters that I love so very much. (Except for Toph...I missed her!) The search referred to in the title is the search for Zuko's and Azula's mother. We finally get a look at her life, and learn how she comes to marry Ozai. I don't want to say too much, but there are some interesting revelations. I love this story so damn much, and I couldn't be more grateful that these graphic novels exist to keep the story going.

I guess the only other thing I have to mention for this update is that we all went to see The Hobbit at the dollar theater on Easter. I knew that I would enjoy the movie, but was still reluctant to go. I just have a very hard time watching a screen and not doing something "productive" at the same time, so sitting in a theater can be akin to torture for me. Well, The Hobbit captivated me so completely that I didn't once miss having my crocheting or any such thing with me. Ridiculous as it sounds, that's pretty high praise from me. :P

So all in all, my first week immersed in Once Upon a Time have been nothing short of delightful!

7 comments:

Ali said...

Your enthusiasm inspired me to join Once Upon a Time at last, though I'm not much of a fantasy reader. I realized I had several books on my TBR pile that would work. Now your mention of Once Upon a Time got me realizing that this is the perfect motivation to finally get around to watching Grimm! I'm not sure why I've never watched--I mean, seriously, it's filmed in Portland! In fact they even filmed a scene at my friend's house! So, I just put Season 1 on hold at my library.

However, sadly, I hated the Hobbit. Loved about 5 scenes (put those 5 scenes together and you'd have a decent 1 1/2 hour movie!), and was bored through the rest. So glad you liked it more than I did.

Ali said...

Wow that was the most confusing comment ever. The first "Once Upon a Time" being the challenge, the second "Once Upon a Time" being the show!

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

I wish I could get into Once Upon a Time (series) :( It sounds exactly like the kind of thing I'd love and I appreciated much of what you mentioned, but there was a lot I just couldn't get past, especially the way Regina is portrayed.

Debi said...

Ali,
Hooray for joining Once Upon a Time! :D I haven't seen Grimm, though I'd like to sometime. How cool that that a scene was filmed at a friend's house!

Ana,
Just emailed you--*must* talk about Regina. Need your thoughts! Even though she did some pretty mean stuff, I actually felt very bad for her. Anyway, I just blathered on in the email so you don't need to reread it here. :P

Eva said...

I warned you OUaT was v white & straight! But I'm so thrilled you ended up addicted to it too. :D S2 has seen a couple of POC characters, but none have become regulars and they feel a bit token-y. Still no GLBT characters.

Feel free to e-mail me to discuss further!!! S2 still being aired now so prob not on Netflix until the fall. You could do the free week trial on Hulu Plus & go on a crazy bender to catch up w it. ;) I have to admit, I have more concerns about S2 than I did S1 (plot-wise & character-wise), but I have my fingers crossed it finds its stride again!

Eva said...

(Also, Rumple is possibly my fave character. I spend all of his scenes in utter awe of the actor. Now I want to re-watch S1. For the the 3rd time! lol)

Eva said...

P.S.: I know I owe you a giant e-mail. I think I owe about 4 people giant e-mails! But my RA & fibro are both acting up & I keep choosing knitting (I'm making my first pair of socks! I just turned a heel yesterday! It is thrilling!) over computer-ing.