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A Sneaky, Deeply Cool Book
on 14 April 2015
At first this feels like a one trick pony, with fairy tale characters texting and tweeting and maintaining their face book pages. I get it; modern social life. But wait. This is actually a sneaky, deeply cool book. It is composed of brief chapters of only a few sentences each; they're really more like captions to the accompanying illustrations. We hop from character to character, and chapter by chapter we learn a little bit more about the crises in each character's life. Peter Pan needs to grow up; Arthur needs to stop screwing around and act like a king; the Frog Prince can't score a date, much less a kiss. But these aren't played for jokes or silly laughs. Rather, each character hides some drama or hurt or disappoinment for which you begin to feel sympathy. In a detached, deadpan style the author draws you in to different versions of the angst that is modern life.
Here's an excerpt: "Little Red Riding Hood continued her masochistic tendencies with a string of terrible blind dates. The first guy was obviously a wolf in women's clothing, which was disturbing on multiple levels....And the last guy was James Franco. It was exciting for a minute, but then he started talking". If you think that line is brutal, funny and a little sad, then you'll like this book.
Everyone's here - Chicken Little, Alice, Rapunzel, Mulan, the Little Mermaid, Robin Hood, and so on. Everyone has some secret pain, some existential issue, some disappointment. Everyone is to some degree damaged and trying to get on with it. In style and effect this reminds me a lot of the work of Jules Feiffer in the '50's. (In a very early strip, filled with post-war anxiety about modern life in the big city, Feiffer put Oedipus on an analysts's couch in a toga and shades, saying, "All right... So I marry her. But did I know she was my mother? It's not like I was sick or something". That could be a page from this book.)
So, this book is way more than a novelty, and is a clever, sly, pointed commentary on our times. A nice, and unique, find.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.