Vinegar and Shrews – Anne Tyler’s Latest Book and Shakespeare’s Comedy

On the one hand you have feminism. On the other, you have romance and comedy. Assuming both hands belong to the same person – say, Anne Tyler – together they reveal more of the human condition than either could on its own. Welcome to Vinegar Girl, a slender volume that might be heftier than you […]

The Case for Fairy Tales Part 2: Villains as Allies

Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story.  So narrates A. Wolf in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. In this […]

Children, Love, Villains and Allies – The Case for Fairy Tales

Part One Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending with Butterflies, Flames, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things. She is young and blonde (or raven-haired) and beautiful – always beautiful. That is unless she’s old and grey and stout. She sleeps or runs or tiptoes through the […]

The Trickster, Three Nightgowns and an Escalator

Standing on the second floor, looking for the third, I saw the up-escalator wasn’t working. Couldn’t find a clerk, so I headed for the moving stairs that were coming down from third. Why should I ask for directions? The last clerk had been rude and insolent – like it was my fault she hadn’t had […]

From And to Or: How Does Writing Change the World?

The trouble with oral cultures is they leave so little behind. Apart from ruins and religious art there isn’t much we can use to get inside their minds. Take the Minoans, whose entire civilization rose and fell nearly 1500 years before the birth of Jesus. What remains suggests a culture that prized women and may […]

Fiction for an Unnatural Era – The Case for Magical Realism

Times are strange: our government can spy on us and say it’s for our protection. The folks who hold that abortion is murder also claim the right to carry guns. And a white woman (who claimed that she was black) gets elected local president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Strange times […]

The Book of Strange New Things: Proselytizing an Alien Nation

“It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime.” Thus boasted a blurb on the back of the book. When folks talk religion, I often get squeamish – especially when they speak with missionary zeal. So when someone handed me The Book of Strange New […]