Making Use Of The Miniature In Storytelling

  Some of the oldest tales about miniature creatures living in oversized land come from fairytales: Thumbelina and Tom Thumb are the first that come to mind. My method was mostly metaphorical: what if Thumbelina wasn’t actually small, she just felt small? — Emma Donoghue, explaining how when rewriting fairytales she took tales from the …

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter wrote Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle specifically to appeal to girls. She thought that Lucie’s feminine garb, with its emphasis on the lost clothing items (o, calamity!), would appeal to girls especially. Even today, authors and publishers are creating children’s books for the gender binary* e.g. this book will appeal to boys because X; this will …

Comedy Techniques In “This Country”

This Country is a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary sitcom with two series so far (2017-2018). The story centers the misadventures of two cousins marooned in a small village in the Cotswolds. Most of their peers have moved on. Kerry and Kurtan are stuck in adolescence. They behave like typical Year 10s, despite being in their late 20s, …

The Headless Bust by Edward Gorey

“The Headless Bust” is the sequel to “The Haunted Tea-Cosy”, which I tried to decipher the other day (with limited success). This one is actually a little easier to understand and we are basically given a pass for not understanding it anyway: ‘Who were these people? Why did they Appear to us along the way?’ …

Cumulative Plots and The Fifth Story by Clarice Lispector

“The Fifth Story” is a work of microfiction by Clarice Lispector. I tend to analyse short stories by looking at their dramatic arc, but what of a story like this? Surely “The Fifth Story” does not fit the seven-step story structure I seem to love so much. (I love it because it works, for both …

Alice Munro, Queenie & Coercive Control

One remarkable thing about Alice Munro: her ability to see aspects of psychology which only drew public attention decades later. In “The Bear Came Over The Mountain” we have a beautiful character study of a philandering man and, his self-justification for wrong-doing and what has since been called sexual solipsism. In “Queenie” Munro paints a …

Flowering Judas by Katherine Anne Porter

“Flowering Judas” is the standout short story by Pulizer Prize winning Katherine Anne Porter, included in a collection published 1930 when Porter was 40. This short story reminds me of “A Dill Pickle” by Katherine Mansfield. Both stories are clearly about the way in which women are socially acculturated into providing emotional labour for men, …

The Leader of the People by John Steinbeck

The Red Pony (1933) by John Steinbeck is described as an episodic novella, or interconnected short stories. “The Leader of the People” is one of those stories. I really enjoyed this story from The Golden Argosy collection (as recommended by Stephen King), as it still feels fresh. The viewpoint of the young boy is great, …

Dump Junk by Annie Proulx

“Dump Junk” is a short story by Annie Proulx, included in the Bad Dirt collection. This is a revisioned fairytale based on The Magic Porridge Pot and similar. Proulx’s shorts stories in many ways allude to, cite, and subvert a number of myths, legends, fairy tales, and folktales converging as common cultural patrimony. — Benedicte …