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Imitation and Reinvention: Mad Hatters and March Hares and Kill the Farm Boy

12 Sep

Sometimes an author’s world and the words they wrote resonate so deeply that they live beyond the works themselves; there are many retellings of Alice in Wonderland and there are some especially terrific interpretations in the new collection edited by Ellen Datlow.  At other times authors may be inspired not by what stories in the past contained, but what the story leaves out. This is the case for the thoroughly modern fantasy Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson which seeks to reinvent the genre with a modern sensibility.

Mad Hatters and March Hares: All New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
edited by Ellen Datlow
MadHattersandMarchHares

Mad Hatters and March Hares is a collection of stories based on not only characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it’s sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, but many also involve the book and the real people associated with stories like Alice Lidell since the tale of the writing of the books often seems as intriguing to readers and authors as the story itself. The story “Worrity, Worrity” by Andy Duncan takes a surrealistic look at why John Tenniel might have dissuaded Carroll from featuring a certain illustration.  Like the nonsense rhyme that filled originals, the collection begins and ends with two poems, the first of which “Gentle Alice” by Kris Dikeman is in the shape of a teacup reflecting the concrete poetry Carroll used in his own work.  Two of my favorite fantasy authors Catherynne M. Valente and Seanan McGuire have excellent stories included;  McGuire’s “Sentence Like a Saturday” was my favorite of the collection and looks at what happens when a certain Kitty enters the “real” world.  I found it interesting that on the whole the stories were dark fantasy and some in the horror genre reflecting the menace that can be seen just below the surface in the original with characters like the threatening Red Queen and Jabberwocky.  You can read about more Alice in Wonderland related books and movies in a previous blog post.

Kill The Farm Boy: The Tales Of Pell
by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson
KilltheFarmBoy
This novel, according to an authors’ note, started as a conversation between Hearne and Dawson in an airport about the need to “kill the farm boy” which they feel represents the cliche of the white young male who lives in a rural area and finds out he is the “chosen one” and goes on to be the center of many adventures. White males can be pretty awesome and many deserve hero status, my dad, husband, and son are all examples of that, but there is definitely room especially in the fantasy realm for more diversity.  This novel made me think of many fantasy novels I’ve read especially the Once and Future King with its interpretation of the Arthur legend.  The novel starts out with the typical farm boy, but he meets an unfortunate accident that keeps him unable to continue his quest and instead the main story focuses on a variety of adventurers including a dark skinned female warrior and her newly met romantic interest a bard who is herself under a spell so that she has rabbit like features.  There were some bits where Kill the Farm Boy had me laughing out loud and it was very original with some of the directions that it took the adventurers in while skewing dated cliches of typical fantasy novels of the past as well as our contemporary society.  The novel manages to be more than just a parody and I hope the fun and original characters of Pell have many more adventures in store for readers.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

“what sad people do when they are lonely looks a lot like me at the grocery store…” – Sabrina Benaim The Loneliest Sweet Potato

15 Aug

Depression&OtherMagicTricks

I was first drawn to Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and Other Magic Tricks by YouTube’s Button Poetry trending spoken word/poetry video called “The Loneliest Sweet Potato”.  You can borrow Depression and other Magic Tricks from BCCLS Libraries.

While I don’t think this is a book suited for everyone’s taste in prose, I do admit there is some raw humanity in a lot of the pages within this book. Whether it’s the title of a poem that impacts you more than the poem itself or if it’s one line that stands out within the mix of pages. This book is worth a glance, even if only to find that one line that’ll resonate deeply within you.

For example, the first page reads “what you see is what you get, / but that’s not all there is.”

This alone intrigued me because it is so true and yet can feel so false. To some people – in my opinion – what you see of course is not what you get as we are all just charading through everyday life trying to portray even if only a glimpse of who we are to those around us. Just as the iceberg analogy I’m sure everyone has heard, that you only see 10% of it and 90% of it is below the surface. This statement is very much relatable to many people. But I know there can be people that may not relate to this statement, and I think that is something so powerful and intriguing that it beguiles me. Whether or not the majority truly believe in their own belief – or if it’s just a reactional state dependent on past circumstances that have caused them to feel such a way – is still remarkable. This, I feel, is what draws attention to the question “what is one’s reality?” or “what is one’s truth?”

On a separate scale I also felt drawn to another poem on page 35 titled “gravity speaks” and it reads “if i am holding you without hands, / how am i supposed to let go?”

This statement/question feels so profound to me and though it makes absolute sense because the title is “gravity speaks” it can also go much deeper than just the literal.

Gravity is a force, a natural phenomenon, so by definition it makes sense for it to be something you can feel without feeling. But what about love? What about God? What about supernatural? Some can say that these are also phenomena that can be held without holding. It’s all about what one claims as their reality.

Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and other Magic Tricks is worth a comb through. If not for the sake of poetry, then for the sake of reality.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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