Monday, March 23, 2009

Book/Magazine Review: Cabinet des Fees Volume One, No. 2

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.

Like the previous volume, Cabinet des Fees Volume One, No. 2 is another welcome foray into the "fairy tale journal." This time, there's a more concentrated focus on the theme discussed in Helen Pilinovsky's "The Significant Other" which is one part introduction and one part literary discussion. What's significantly different in this issue is the fact that the division between fiction and scholarly discourse is more even, with three nonfiction articles included.

When it comes to the fiction, the selection is pretty even as there's a mix of the satirical, the dark, and the sensual. Sonya Taafe's "Katabasis" hits you immediately after Pilinovsky's discourse and it's probably best to read this as poetry due to its brevity and imagery. There was some struggle on my part to read this text but it pretty much lives up its title. The highlight of Cabinet des Fees for me is "Vox" by Kimberly DeCina which subverts a familiar fairy tale on multiple levels, from our sympathetic narrator to the lesbian undertone of the piece. DeCina's greatest asset here is her portrayal of the characters for even when our heroine is acting like the villain, she wins readers over. Similarly commendable is the way she hints and suggests with the text, saving the certain revelation for the story's climax. Otherwise, the other stories were well-written and entertaining, my only complaint being the inclusion of a certain anachronism in Jessica Paige Wick's "The Cat-Skin Coat."

The second part of this journal are the papers on fairy tales, with a focus on sexuality and the other. This section I think is a hit or miss, not because they're not well-written, but because there's a certain formality in such topics. To the casual reader who's simply interested in reading stories, the comparison of Sleeping Beauty narratives--complete with bibliographies--might appear dull and boring. But if you're a fairy tale aficionado, this is a welcome treat, especially Jamil Mustafa's "'The Lady of the House of Love:' Angela Carter's Vampiric Sleeping Beauty," which juggles three different version of the famous fairy tale and how they relate with each other.

Overall another decent issue with a fairly consistent selection and what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for with its recurring theme and central concept.

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