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A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects Paperback – May 31, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Structured around a series of folktale motifs, Valente's eloquent second full-length poetry collection dissects the perceived roles of women in Earth's and otherworldly fable and myth. One prevailing theme is women's subjugation by tradition and ritual in male-dominated societies, as in How Comes This Blood Upon the Key? wherein a wife imprisoned in her own home protests: I did not look/ for a house to become my limbs,/ for cast iron pans to become my joints,/ for doors and keys to become/ the stuff of my blood,/ for a bed to become my face. The young title character in The Child Bride of the Lost City of Ubar is ruthlessly and needlessly sacrificed, and in Glass, Blood, and Ash, a woman's dream of falling in love with a prince is shattered by harsh reality. Fans of Valente's Orphan's Tales duology will find this collection similarly embittered, enlightening and enthralling. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Curiosities (May 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934648353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934648353
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,686,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherynne M. Valente is an author, poet, and sometime critic who has been known to write as many as six impossible things before breakfast. She is to blame for over a dozen works of fiction and poetry, including The Orphan's Tales, Palimpsest, Deathless, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She has won the Tiptree Award, the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award, the Lambda Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Million Writers Award for best web fiction. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, an enormous cat, and a slightly less enormous accordion.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Catherynne M. Valente, A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects (Norilana, 2008)

Few things are as worth waiting for as a new book by Catherynne Valente. As these things usually go, few things fill me with imaptientce at the waiting for them as a new book by Catherynne Valente. My current monetary situation (and the book's current, as I write this, availability situation where libraries are concerned--a most grievous oversight indeed) had me waiting far too long to pick up A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Valente's first book of poetry since 2005's Apocrypha. It was, however, entirely worth the wait.

I'm not sure I believed that Valente was capable of improving on the already-stellar work in Apocrypha, but there are pieces here that do so. While there's nothing in the book that falls short of the standard Valente set for herself in that last book, there are a handful of pieces that transcend even that:

"Hades is a place I know in Ohio,
at the bottom of a long, black stair
winding down I-76 from Pennsylvania,
winding down the weeds
through the September damp
and that old tangled root system
of asphalt and asphodel,
to the ash-fields,
clotted with fallen acorns
like rain puddled in fibrous pools."
("The Descent of the Corn-Queen of the Midwest")

Anyone can make a person who's already seen something see it again in his mind. The point of poetry is to make someone who hasn't already seen it have a similar experience (similar because, as we all know, no two perceptions of a given even are identical, depending on the baggage, the mood, perhaps even the amount of caffeine extant in the system each reader brings to the table). That's how it's supposed to work in a really good book of poetry.
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A series of wonderfully imaginitive takes on classic fairytales. Most of the stories are rather dark, and there is a running theme surrounding the subjugation of women. There is also a couple moments of joy in the text. But throughout everything is Valente's fabulous poetry that rolls easily off the tongue. I read the entire book aloud to myself and enjoyed every word of it.

I heartily recommend the text to anyone who enjoyed the brutality of the original Metamorphoses, and wants to see what a more modern approach to similar stories would look like.
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By Alexandria on July 26, 2013
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This is more than you can ever be ready for, she always impresses. A great addition to the collection. Please and thank you.
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