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!