Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg


Goodreads Summary:

From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from her beloved "Children's Stories Made Horrific" series, The Merry Spinstertakes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and her best-selling debut Texts from Jane Eyre. The feature become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children's stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg's boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg's oeuvre will delight in her unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bedtime will never be the same.


My Thoughts:

There are some truly creepy and disturbing stories in this collection. Ortberg has a wicked sense of humor and she knows how to turn all our know stories into even more terrible tales. I mean, fairy-tales are creepy but she adds an extra layer that turn them all on their heads and makes our heads spin right along.

One of my favorite retellings was of The Little Mermaid called The Daughter Cells.

"The prince asked her who she was and where she came from, and she looked at him with not a little disgust, that he did not know her. No point in sufering for someone who hasn't asked you to do it, the witch had said, but please yourself; he won't recognize what pain looks like on your face, that's for certain. He evidently couldn't recognize disgust, either, taking it for a softer emotion and guiding her inside a nearby building." (p.18)

I couldn't help but think about how that is similar to my culture. Men not understanding pain and disgust and mistaking it for compliance. Her stories are riddled with these nuggets of truth.

Another great quote comes from The Six Boy-coffins a retelling of The Six Swans and The Twelve Brothers.

"Being beautiful had never prevented her from remaining in the woods alone before, but there was nothing she could do about it. Beauty was what gave him the right to talk to her as if they had been introduced, and take her hand, and make her wear his cloak, and take her from her tree and to his home."

The retelling of The Wind in the Willows was one of the most disturbing stories I've read in a long time. Go seek this collection out! Ortberg is a master story-teller!