Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird (2014)

Girl Cave Rose. Prince Dark Mirror. Crow Cellar Ring.

One has the sense that Helen Oyeyemi thinks in threes.

Also that she views the world through a slightly skewed lens.

Hamish Hamilton – Penguin, 2014

But Boy, Snow, Bird is not simply a random collection of resonant images and ideas; the book is named [...]

Kim Echlin’s Inanna (2003)

“I like telling stories of women who act on their passions.”

“I like these strong female characters.”

“When I talk with readers I feel an enormous appetite in women to explore both their strength and their emotional connectedness, which still tend not to be honoured in the dominant culture.”*

Any one of these statements would [...]

Sita’s Ramayana: A Feminist Retelling

As if it wasn’t enough to take The Ramayana and present it in images, this volume retells the ancient epic through the eyes of a woman. This is Sita’s Ramayana.

House of Anansi, 2011 Artwork by Moyna Chitrakar

The original Sanskrit text is attributed to the poet Valmiki, and it is comprised of 24,000 verses which tell [...]

And Laughter Fell From the Sky: An Enticing Debut

Abhay sits on the grass in front of a bar, on the opening page of And Laughter Fell From the Sky.

Harper Collins, 2012

The five-lane highway across from Kent State  University is as hectic as the afternoon rush in Grand Central Station was, one hundred years ago, in Edith Wharton’s A House of Mirth.


A Literary Three-Way: About the Girls (II)

I was inspired to re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad after I read The Odyssey (with and without pictures).

“The story as told in The Odyssey doesn’t hold water: there are too many inconsistencies.”

Atwood describes the impetus for retelling this classic tale as follows:

“I’ve always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is [...]

Once Upon a Time: Fragments

Once Upon a Time has wrapped up for another year, but I haven’t properly mentioned some books, including two terrific books of Inuit folktales which I’ll discuss tomorrow. But, first…

Cameron Dokey’s The World Above is part of the series of retellings from Simon Pulse; there are about twenty retellings in all, and they all seem to [...]

Drawing Conclusions: A Serial Reader

We want that “paradoxical search for familiarity combined with strangeness; want more of the same – but with a difference,” says Victor Watson in Reading Series Fiction.

Watson’s book considers series written for children, but it still applies, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like reading a series.

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is one of my [...]

Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (2011)

It’s 1952, in the hottest summer that Paris has had since before the war.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2012

Beatrice writes to her brother, Marvin, saying “Paris was terrible”, and she has little else to report.

She has travelled there, at Marvin’s request, to look for Marvin’s son, Julian.

But although there were [...]

Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles (2011)

Of course there are readers who gravitate towards fiction set in ancient times, with their battered Mary Renault and Robert Graves paperbacks, their beloved Rosemary Sutcliffe childhood favourites still lining their shelves.

Harper Collins, 2012

But just as there were many readers who would never pick up a western but acclaimed the wonder of Patrick deWitt’s [...]

The Guardians of Childhood: Three Volumes

Simon & Schuster, 2011

Just as in the Harry Potter stories, the William Joyce tales begin with a younger reader in mind and, then, as the pages turn, both child and story grow.

The first volume, The Man in the Moon, scarcely seems to be in the same series as the later books.

It’s [...]