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Mirimirage

Allusion is not Illusion

You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.

Currently reading

Winter's Tales
Karen Blixen, Isak Dinesen
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Penguin Classics)
Rebecca West, Christopher Hitchens
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Already Dead
Charlie Huston
The Rings of Saturn
W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse
Lady Audley's Secret
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, David Skilton
Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" - And How You Can Fight Back
Thom Hartmann
The City, Not Long After
Pat Murphy
You Can Sketch: A Step-by-Step Guide for Absolute Beginners
Jackie Simmonds
Lonely Werewolf Girl
Martin Millar
A World of Fairy Tales: Ten Celebrated Artists Reinvent the Classic Tales - Rita Marshall As is often often the case when illustrators try to get all High Art, several of these selections will probably not appeal to children. In addition to not loving most of them, several were too removed from the narratives they accompanied. For instance, in the first story, Etienne Delessert's illustration of "Beauty and the Beast," one of the few full-page paintings shows a group of girls in odd hats, the foremost holding an apple, approaching a main with a hydra-like multiplicity of snake heads and a cane. In the background a man with a blue umbrella(or huge hat?) races by on horseback and an old, gray-bearded man with a purple umbrella (or hat) assaults a struggling naked woman. The accompanying text is from Madame D'Aulnoy and definitely does not correspond to this scene.

Another entry which seemed at odds with its text was Philippe Dumas' version of "The Queen Bee," which depicts the three brother princes as little boys in contemporary play outfits (one of them seems to be sans pants, but let's not get into that). That's a little weird because they get married, but what really threw me off was that the youngest, despised brother is black. An illustration of two older white boys bullying a younger black boy seems to raise all sorts of racial issues which are not present in the text.

The only tale I really liked was Roberto Innocenti's 1920s-style "Cinderella". His art was just lovely and the detail was great. I especially liked the gawking neighbors in the background, the glistening pearls of caviar, and the fairy godmother's pumpkin-into-carriage blueprints.

The remainder of the stories, briefly:

Monique Felix's "Hansel and Gretel" was pretty in a pastel sort of way. It did have a 1970s soft-core-porn vibe that bothered me a bit, but I assume that wouldn't occur to any younger readers.

"The Three Languages" is a terrible story and I have no idea why Chermayeff picked it. I didn't care for his illustrations, which are in the style of (or possibly are) paper-cutting collages in very loud and angry tones, but kids may like their brights colors or simplicity.

No question about it, John Howe knows what a flounder looks like. Also, wrinkly old people. I think he's a very skilled artist and will have to track down something by him that isn't as depressing as "The Fisherman and His Wife."

I had never encountered the "Bushy Bride" (listed as a "Norwegian fairy tale") before, although it contained elements I have seen in other tales, such as the sweet and submissive girl rewarded (in this case for brushing and kissing some hideous troll heads) with gold that falls from her hair, while her assertive and "rude" sister is punished with a long nose and a bush that grows from her forehead (well, that's different!). The girl was such a dumb sop that I didn't care whether she drowned or married the idiot king. Seymour Chwast's illustration are crayons in a cartoony, child-like style.

Even more cartoony is Jacques Tardi's illustration of "The Enchanted Pig," a Rumanian fairy tale that combines elements of Bluebeard and East of the Sun. It was not very appealing to me, either in story or pictures.

John Collier's "Sleeping Beauty" is done in dark (literally and metaphorically) charcoal or black pastel, very atmospheric.

"The Fir Tree," a little downer by Andersen, is interestingly interpreted by Marcel Imsand as a series of black and white photos, with a toddler in place of the tree.

In short, less than half the artists are ones I would seek out more works by, and some I would positively avoid, so for me it was overall an unsuccessful project.