The twist is: What if they didn't use the third wish to send away the rotted corpse of their son? What if they invited him back anyways? The story becomes a disturbing digression on the erosion of happiness. Little Man Based on: Rumplestiltskin I've read other positive representations of the titular ugly 'little man' of the Rumplestiltskin story. Here, he is consumed by the desire to have a child: to be a good father and to pass on his knowledge to a new generation. His efforts to help a hapless girl spin straw into gold are motivated largely by kindness.
But we all know what happens to a dream deferred Steadfast, Tin Based on: Hans Christian Andersen's Steadfast Tin Soldier A modern relationship is depicted here, which may mirror the tragic fairy tale in certain respects. At least, the woman in the relationship seems to think it does; and her daughter explicitly thinks that her mother used telling her the story as a way to try to explain her parents' relationship. The story rather deftly questions the concept of destiny and true love, as it describes a troubled - but eventually 'steadfast' - marriage.
Beasts Based on: Beauty and the Beast Ooh, this was a twist on the story that I hadn't ever actually seen before. And I've read a LOT of takes on this story. I thought it worked really well, too. I might even say it was Angela Carter-worthy. Here, many events proceed as expected, with the additional information that Beauty herself might've been less meek and selfless, and more hopeless and frustrated than we thought. She professes her love for the Beast and breaks the spell Her Hair Based on Rapunzel Beginning where the story usually ends, this shows us a blind man at the fulfillment of his long and arduous quest to find his love.
The short piece quickly becomes a metaphor about how we all sometimes hide certain things in relationships, to keep others happy. Note: The illustrations here, by Yuko Shimizu, are exquisite. Simple, stark black-and-white, like something from a less-perverse Aubrey Beardsley.
I couldn't help feeling like they belonged to a less earthy, more transcendent collection of fairy tales, though. View 1 comment. Dec 25, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: folk-fairy-tales , short-story-collections. Cunningham presents some new spins on beloved classics with this short collection of retellings, updates and continuations of folk and fairy tales for adults.
There's some fun and provocative stuff here - crazy cat ladies who build gingerbread houses, ne'er-do-wells and their beanstalks, closet necrophiliacs who wake sleeping princesses. Most are worthy of three stars, with a few fivers scattered about. I truly love the last tale - an original offering about how we can make our own fairy tal Cunningham presents some new spins on beloved classics with this short collection of retellings, updates and continuations of folk and fairy tales for adults.
I truly love the last tale - an original offering about how we can make our own fairy tales come true by noticing the magic in our every day lives. At least that's what I thought it was about. The illustrations by Yuko Shimizu are truly lovely! View 2 comments. Nov 19, Larry H rated it liked it. I'd rate this 3. The idea of putting twists on the fairy tales we know and love isn't a new one. Many books have given these familiar tales a modern spin, a more macabre tone, even made them more politically correct, as the originals were decidedly not!
In A Wild Swan and Other Tales , Michael Cunningham, one of my favorite authors, tries to humanize the tales a bit, modernizing them, and imbuing many with more emotion and character development than the originals offered. He looks at some I'd rate this 3. He looks at some familiar tales—Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin—and others I wasn't familiar with.
All in all, it's an interesting exercise, one which I think had mixed results. As I've said many a time before, if a story hits me emotionally without making me feel manipulated, it definitely resonates. The stories I liked best in this collection either moved or amused me, sometimes both. I love the way Michael Cunningham tells a story, and I've always found that characterization is among his many strengths, so those stories in which the characters were front and center worked best. A few of the stories were odd, and one was told in such a way that I wasn't exactly sure who was narrating it or what was happening.
Overall, this was an intriguing and worthwhile read. View all 13 comments. Feb 11, Teresa rated it really liked it. I spotted this slim book while browsing the 'new' shelves of the library one evening. I feel drawn to retellings of fairy tales, though so many end up disappointing me. Because I enjoy Cunningham's writing, I didn't think twice about checking out this book. I wasn't excited about any of the stories until I got to the seventh out of eleven , the story titled "Little Man" Rumpelstiltskin , easily my favorite, which has a perfect reason to use second-person narration.
With it, Cunningham does one I spotted this slim book while browsing the 'new' shelves of the library one evening. With it, Cunningham does one of the things I feel a retelling 'should' do: i. Its ending, one fairly long paragraph, was so exquisite, drawing our attention to how someone like him in 'real life' could turn into the person he has become, that I read it several times.
The next story, "Steadfast; Tin", is another that used a twisting of the genre effectively, bringing the story into relevance to a modern-day couple, while cleverly filling in the reader who might not be familiar with the HC Andersen tale of The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The story after that, "Beasts", frustrated me with its standard 'retelling' of "Beauty and the Beast", until I arrived at the ending and the reason for it all became clear: I had been as seduced as Beauty was.
I should also mention "A Monkey's Paw", a very good story: I've just never been a fan of the original by W. Jacobs whose title contains the definite article. The illustrations by Yuko Shimizu are ethereal and disturbing; and I guess because I'm not a visual person, I didn't realize, till I later looked at her website, that I've encountered her work before. Probably more of a 3. View all 9 comments. Dec 02, Daphne rated it it was amazing Shelves: quest , own-ebook.
If anything, the characters here where written with more impact and depth. Carter is a master at ambiance, but Cunningham mastered character creation in short form here. The illustrations are absolutely haunting. I highly recommend this one! Dec 05, Maciek rated it it was ok Shelves: releases , read-in , short-story-collections , reviewed.
Dalloway which won him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and was later adapted into a successful movie. I have never read the book nor seen the film, though I really enjoyed the musical score by Philip Glass, which might be his finest work for film you can listen to it here - I don't think you will be disappointed. A Wild Swan is his first collection of short stories, and one which I approached with certain in Michael Cunningham is the author of The Hours , a book inspired by Virginia Woolf's Mrs. A Wild Swan is his first collection of short stories, and one which I approached with certain interest and curiosity - it is a collection of fairy tales told anew.
A surprising subject for someone who has been writing mostly realistic fiction, I was very interested me how the author would approach hi subject - and in the end can't help but be disappointed This is a slim collection - less than pages long - and yet includes 11 stories, complete with black and white illustrations by Yuko Shimuzu. Cunningham takes classic stories such as Snow White, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast and Jack and the Bean Stalk, and tells them again in his own way - in a different setting, or from another perspective.
Fairytale retellings are nothing new, but they are something entirely new for this particular author - and it shows. Aside for two exceptions, I found none of these "new" stories to be either particularly impressive or memorable - they read more like exercises in writing, a way for the author to try himself out in something that he has not attempted before.
It is not a bad thing in itself, but the end result is not always ready to be presented to a wider audience. Such exercises are often hidden in the proverbial drawer, where they await better times which often don't come. The real gem of the collection is Little Man , which is the retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, told in the second person from the perspective of the imp.
In the original, as collected centuries ago by the Grimm brothers, a miller brags to the King of his realm that his daughter can spin straw into gold; the King throws the poor girl into a locked room full of straw and demands that she turn it all into gold before morning, or else she will be beheaded. Rumpelstiltskin is the mysterious figure who appears out of nowhere, offering her a deal: he will spin the straw into gold for exchange of something of hers.
First, he takes her necklace; when the King sees a room full of gold and locks her in an even bigger room, demanding more gold, he takes her ring; when the next day the King says that he will marry her if she will turn another room of straw into gold, the imp demands their firstborn child. In the original tale just appears out of nowhere, and not as a savior - he essentially blackmails the girl into giving him what he wants, knowing full well that these are offers that she can't refuse if she wants to live in some versions of the stories the imp begins to spin gold despite the girl protesting that she has nothing more to pay him at the last day, and tells her that he will take her first child, leaving her horrified.
The original tale offers no information about the imp, his character or motivation - we can see him as unlikable, but we do not know why he is so, or why he does what he does. This is why Cunningham's story works so well - it gives voice to someone who did not have one before, and unexpectedly flips the tables on morality of the characters. Rumpelstiltskin becomes a sympathetic character and very believably so, and his portrayal as of a being filled with deep sadness and loneliness, consumed by deep longing for a child is touching and memorable.
This is, to put it simply, a good story, and deserves praise as such. Still, two stories do not exactly cut it, and despite enjoying them I can't recommend the collection as a whole. If I was to describe A Wild Swan with one word, it would be "unnecessary" - one or two stories are not enough to save it. If you are interested in fairy tales adapted into contemporary prose, look no further than Philip Pullman's brilliant Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Versiont , which treats the source material with respect and courtesy. Narrators - Lili Taylor and Billy Hough : 4 stars Their narrations were just right for the stories, giving them that extra spark.
There is one where they were narrate together that was one of my favorites. There were a few stand-outs among the bunch Wild Swans, Poisoned, the one based on the one-legged soldier and the ballerina, Monkeys Paw but overall I wasn't super impressed with them. Each story has its own charm A certain gave me chills even though I heard a different re-telling of some years ago still not exactly sure when and where and if I could purchase each story separately, that would be one of them I would choose.
Despite the off-beatness of these stories, I was never completely pulled in for most of collection. I'm still thinking over these though, they have that certain 'pull' to them, that 'something' you can't quite pinpoint. I give Mr.
This was a good read for me while I wasn't feeling well, it was nice to just lay down, close my eyes, and let my mind drift along with the stories. Probably, it will most likely be one you will love or feel 'meh' about but still worth the try methinks. Happy reading! Sep 17, Anne rated it liked it Shelves: sff , This was good, but just good. Each fairy tale came with a new twist, but the premise was so familiar that it sometimes felt as though you were just reading the same story you've read a thousand times before.
It's a fast read though and I enjoyed it. In fairy tale retellings I think I want something vastly different, rather than slightly different. For anyone who likes classic tales with tiny tweaks, this is the book for you. Sometimes the tear is surprisingly small. Jan 07, Elisa rated it did not like it. Utterly unimaginative and yet somehow oozing with smugness.
Sep 21, Leah rated it really liked it. A Wild Swan: And Other Tales offered more hits than misses, which, for a collection of short stories, equals a successful reading experience for me. This was my first time reading anything by Michael Cunningham and I quite enjoyed how deep he took me inside the characters' minds, hearts and souls. I always say one thing I like retellings to do is add depth to the originals' characters -- Cunningham did exactly that!
He also chose the somewhat darker path of the originals -- another favorite of m A Wild Swan: And Other Tales offered more hits than misses, which, for a collection of short stories, equals a successful reading experience for me. He also chose the somewhat darker path of the originals -- another favorite of mine. The retellings were modernized but they weren't drastically different from their originals. So if you're someone who prefers the author make a lot of changes or add a lot of new stuff you may be better off with another collection; for example, The Witch And Other Tales Re-Told by Jean Thompson.
Hmm, if I were threatened with a poisoned apple, I'd have to pick "A Wild Swan" as my favorite of the collection. That one was a tearjerker. Dec 12, Margaret rated it really liked it Shelves: short-stories , fairytale-myth-inspired. Wow, what a fast read!
I read this in a single sitting. These retellings circle around love and relationships--what it means to have someone that's always by your side, that 'happily ever after,' for better and for worse. But these are not romanticized versions. The first story--"Dis. Enchant"--gives a clue as to how Cunningham approaches fairy tales--he disenchants the romanticized notion of happily ever after. In "A Wild Swan," he show Wow, what a fast read! The witch in this one is a woman denying her age, who wants to remain the fun-loving sex maven she once was.
I also liked "Beasts," a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, that thoroughly disenchants the transformation scene at the end. It shows that Happily Ever Afters can, after all, work. That you can have the weirdness and annoyance of long-term relationships and still be happy. Overall, I enjoyed the collection. As someone thoroughly familiar with all of the tales, the beginnings were somewhat annoying because Cunningham often summarizes the tale before moving into his new take. However, the endings are fantastic. And he draws beautiful insights from some of the tales. The illustrations by Yuko Shimizu are gorgeous.
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Here's one of the illustrations, though I think my favorite is of Rapunzel nested inside her hair. Fairy tale lovers will enjoy this collection, but also people only vaguely familiar with fairy tales but enjoy modern short stories. This is my first Michael Cunningham, and I'm willing to try out more by him. Dec 07, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: short-stories , modern-day-fantasy , fairy-tales-retold. Quite a lot to like in this somewhat uneven but still captivating collection of fractured faerie stories.
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Cunningham has an abrasive but oddly refreshing writing style that works with the traditional flow of most faerie tales and gives the odd and usually deeply personal knife twist he inserts with each one that much more impact. If he strays a bit too far into the depressing and dire for my personal taste with the tale of a washed up, one winged prince in the titular "Wild Swans" and a hard livi Quite a lot to like in this somewhat uneven but still captivating collection of fractured faerie stories.
If he strays a bit too far into the depressing and dire for my personal taste with the tale of a washed up, one winged prince in the titular "Wild Swans" and a hard living, hard loving "witch" who builds a gingerbread house to lure someone to love her in "Crazy Old Lady" he still maintains a wistful bit of magic in his retelling of old favorites like "Beauty and the Best" and "The Steadfast Tin Soldier. He also doesn't stick completely to faerie tales. There's a particularly eerie retelling of the already eerie on its own "Monkey's Paw" that Cunningham manages to make icky in entirely new ways with only one minor plot change.
The same can be said for "Beast" a retelling that might seem like its going down a road other authors have traveled before only to yank the rug out at the last moment in a deliciously terrifying way. Cunningham outright says what a lot of us probably think when we read stories like this. Do we want daddy to bring us back a rose because we're sweet and innocent or do we just to make sure everyone else thinks we are?
Is it creepy that we kind of like the prince before the curse was broken or the princess before she woke up? My favorite story is the last, a simple tale of an average prince and a homely princess who marry and then find to their surprise that they love each other. They rule wisely and well and raise princes and princesses who screw stuff up and make horrendously bad decisions sometimes but who find things they're good at and learn to love who they are faults and all.
They live a good, gentle, purposeful life and when they die they leave behind a legacy of children and grandchildren destined to live good, gentle, purposeful lives after them. Something to long for but still something attainable. This is a quick, darkly funny, bitter sweet little collection that will send a little frisson of fear down your spine even while it leaves you smiling.
Nov 09, Romany Arrowsmith rated it did not like it. Insubstantial at best, insufferable at worst, boring most of all. NPR's recommendation brought me here. Why do I keep listening to them?
The Wild Swan
The "fairytales subversively retold" schtick is such well-covered ground that if you're going to retread it, you have to do something extremely original, especially considering the recent plethora of garbage fairytale material being spewn out by Disney lately. And you know what, at least I can respect the almost sinister triviality of shows like Once Upon A Tim Insubstantial at best, insufferable at worst, boring most of all.
And you know what, at least I can respect the almost sinister triviality of shows like Once Upon A Time or the live-action remakes of old animated favorites. At least their naked corporate greed is just that, naked; transparently brainless. A Wild Swan is brainlessness posturing infuriatingly as art. Also, there are some men who are good at writing women and women's POVs; Cunningham is not one of them. The most horrid of the latter is the retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which view spoiler [Belle spends the story wistfully wishing to be raped because she is sick of the meek non-feral boys in her town, and in the end, gets her wish!
Stine twist. Nov 16, Heather L. I think the art was better than the stories. The title story is, obviously a reference to the twelve swans and deals with the prince who is left with one wing. However, the collection runs far deeper than that. Fairy tales show us what is in terms of what could have been.
They teach or show truths in ways that are easier to deal with. Cunningham knows this, and he knows what drives us to read the gossip stories. Both deal with marriage and idea of what happy ever after means. The stories work because Cunningham focus on that after, which in many cases is the most potentially disturbing parts of the story, but they can also be the hopeful and profound.
The Wild Swan by Foy Vance Reviews and Tracks - Metacritic
Like these stories in this collection. Shelves: american , adventure , netgalley , short-stories , fairy-tales , 21st-century , s. I was curious before starting the book if I was going to be able to recall any of the stories or characters from the fairy tales chosen by Cunningham, as the last time I remember myself reading a fairy tale was definitely more than twenty years ago. I did however find all the stories familiar and enjoyed the chance to conjure them up from the far-away corners of my memory.
Cunningham questions the irrationality of the fairy tales and masterly invents the motivation and background behind all these actions and events we used to take for granted. Cunningham places the characters and the events of the fairy tales in the modern times. If magic can happen at all, why does it have to be in the past? Why do we always see fairy tales as something that has happened really long ago? He gives voices to both good and evil characters, main and secondary or unnoticed ones.
A witty and entertaining read. Note: I obtained this book through NetGalley. Dec 16, Emma rated it liked it. I have never read Michael Cunningham before and this brief foray into his work has not urged me to dive readily into anything else by him. Homemade ice Cream, icky sticky toffee sauce. Probably the best brownie in the world.
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