on June 5, 2010
I devoured this book in a day. I was completely sucked in from the preface on, and you cannot skip the preface! After all, it only explains the creation of the universe with the sort of humor that would have had Douglas Adams rolling in the aisles back when he was among the quick. Basically, this is a collection of fables and fairy tales complete with gnomes, trolls, princesses, and even a talking chicken thrown in for good measure (to list just a few), but the book reads like they are all connected, like this is all happening on the same whacked out, funny, ludicrous version of Earth where a gnome can seek world domination and a brilliant young chicken can learn a lesson about what the world really thinks about smart people. These stories are funny, entertaining, and I'm looking forward to reading them again.
on June 20, 2010
This is a collection of very dark, bizarre, definitely unique and occassionally flat-out revolting fairy tales written for adults by a creative, good writer with a really weird (or some might say - sick)sense of humor.
The book begins with the story of how Satan creates the world and stupid mankind for his own amusement. After that it's a ride through the strange world they live in. From the first tale of a talking chicken who sets off to find her destiny - it becomes clear that these are the complete opposite of "happily ever after" stories.
For me, I found that, up until the last one, they became progressively more predictable and vulgarly revolting.
But, even the names of the tales should make that pretty clear:
- Stench: The Crappy Snowman (a tale of the miserable life of a poorly made snowman who was created with dog poop for a nose)
- Maggot in a Red Sombrero (in which a crazy lady befriends a maggot who needs to be fed)
- Tubercular Bells (in which a man discovers a band of gnomes is soiling his sidewalks and driveway with poop and bodily excrements each night)
- Misery & Co. (in which a talking monkey named Misery befriends a man)
While, there's no question that Knipfel is incredibly creative and a clever writer, and as much as I generally appreciate a unique approach (all of which, I've given the book 3-stars for), most of these were just too dark for me.
BOTTOM LINE: Since it is well-written and clever, if you are a fan of Grimm's Fairy Tales or really enjoy very dark, sarcastic humor, or think you'd enjoy a couple of the tales I mentioned, you'll probably enjoy this one far more than I.
on August 25, 2015
I'm not sure what I was expecting the short stories in this book to be about, but this definitely was not it. I was unimpressed with the first few stories, and was prepared to give this book one star, or maybe two at the most...and then I read a wonderful story about Gerard the Gnome. I like Gnomes. Angry gnomes are even better. Up to three stars. After that, I read a story about cockroaches. Followed by a story about a maggot wearing a sombrero. Right before going to bed. That was unpleasant, back to two stars. The last story in this book had a fun twist, that made me giggle with delight. Yay. Back to three stars. I'm still not sure I enjoyed this book. Give it a read. Or not. I really don't know.
on January 11, 2013
This one left me cold. I found the stories to be not particularly creative or interesting, and the heavy use of foul language seemed superfluous and mostly intended to distract from the less than stellar storytelling. Sorry, I can't recommend this one.
on January 27, 2012
Don't get me started 'bout this one!
Jim Knipfel is a brilliant, wryly-observant writer, and, while the "wry" part of that last often tends to outweigh the "observant" in all-too-often a case, Knipfel manages to pack in paragraph after paragraph of evolving, expanding, wider-range extrapolation in each of these semi-humorous, semi-tragic "fairy tales."
(Well, alright ... only the chicken story is really & truly "tragic," but ... it made me sad!)
You'll have "trouble" getting through this if you read this aloud to people (start with the "Preface," a "Creation Myth," featuring Satan -- or, um, "Satan" -- as the Head Guy, and see how far you get before everyone "loses it"!).
I have no idea why this book didn't make a bigger "splash" when it came out in 2010 [I just happened across it, sitting on the shelf here at Powell's, last Fall], other than the usual "getting on the radar" problems which you probably don't need me to tell you about.
Just as well ... if YOU pick it up, I guar-ron-TEE it'll make a really, really big "dent" in YOUR life, and you'll wonder how you ever got along with out it, why no-one ever thought of this before, and why all these tons & tons o' folks around you don't know about it
Ah well ... such is the satisfaction of "knowing better"!
CAVEAT [albeit, in this case, of the "opposite" kind than usual]: You may want to "test drive" the thing before you read it in public (like a coffee shop, say). You start cracking up, people might look at you with a "Wha?" look on their faces, and you'll just have to be like "Sorry, sorry, I'm just ..." (hold forehead with hands) " ... it's just ... " (coming closer, but then cracking up again) " ... ahh ..."
For those of us nostalgic for scary kidlit of old(like accounts of being eaten by a wolf), there is a collection of fairy tales for adults, These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and Other Fairy Tales. Within its pages, author Jim Knipfel tells delightfully warped stories about talking animals, gnomes, elves, and the people bedeviled by such creatures. If a story does have a happy ending -- a few of them do -- it's happy for the wrong character.
In These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and Other Fairy Tales, brilliance is rewarded with torture, beauty is its own punishment, and outrageous good fortune always turns to crap. The only thing worse than being the victim of some of the malevolent creatures in these fairy tales is to be their beneficiary. Twisted? You bet! Entertaining? And how!
In the preface, the reader is introduced to a world created by Satan out of boredom. In this world, crafted with great irony, people are designed as entertainment for their creator and, unsurprisingly, they go about their lives exactly the way people do. (Fundamentalists, take note: you do not want to read the preface.) Knipfel uses this tale to set the reader up for the amusements (some might say "horrors") to come.
Without giving away too much, titles like "Plants Ain't No Good," "Rancid the Devil Horse," "Maggot in a Red Sombrero," and "Stench, the Crappy Snowman," are clues to their twisted narratives. Filled with nasty creatures doing unpalatable things, these fables feature "heroes" who are mentally deficient or greedy (or both!), who are mere pawns of both the nasty creatures and the storyteller.
Knipfel weaves his sagas into a loathsome tapestry from which one cannot look away. His sardonic wit and caustic style take absurd situations and turn them into compelling, often cautionary, tales. In looking for morals to these stories, one that might apply is "This is what happens to people who are born." Should the reader begin to imagine that These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and Other Fairy Tales is simply an imaginative exercise in creativity, a lesson of sorts will present itself. Generally, the lessons are reflections of our own ugly carelessness and irresponsibility.
All of These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and Other Fairy Tales is darkly humorous, heavily ironic, and mockingly intelligent. Fans of satire and sarcasm will find it to be a treasure, fans of syrupy sweet, happily-ever-after endings should look elsewhere.
on July 2, 2010
If the Brothers Grimm were putting their collection of fairy tales together today they would have used these stories by Knipfel as their centerpiece!
"A series of twisted fables... wickedly dark satire on the notion of happily ever after... lonely losers wallowing in discontent" These are just a few of the critics descriptions of the stories.
As you go from story to story you find yourself getting completely lost in this unusual universe that Knipfel has created and you begin to realize what a strange place it is filled with trolls and gnomes, talking chickens, maggots, witches, a princess, a talking fish, six-leggity beasts and a serial killing horse! Sounds to over the top... it's not! The stories are fantastic and each one will capture your imagination, your fantasy and perhaps might make you think a little on what is being said!
There is a degree of violence in some of the stories that is pretty gruesome; same as can be found in many of the Brothers Grimm stories... so be forewarned. The stories are also humorous and in some instances laugh out loud funny!
The book can easily be read in one sitting and when finished you might just want to read it again... and again... and again.
on November 17, 2010
If you're looking for a dirty little lark, here's a collection of nasty fairy tales from a very funny writer. Taking the basic template of the form, Jim Knipfel develops a bookful of twisty narratives that place fairy tale rules into modern parlance, and the results are both truly funny and kind of instantly forgettable. For me, the book ends up serving as a fun palate cleanser between bigger reads, and if that's not what you're looking for, this may not be for you. But it is a breezy read full of fun, evil twists and turns. And though Knipfel's point seems to be Today Sucks, he makes the point with more than enough wit and surprise to keep you engaged.
on October 24, 2011
While I can definitely appreciate dark or twisted humor, this book was just plain boring. While the preface was mildly amusing, each of the stories in this book were boring and one or more of the following; predictable, pointless, stupid, and/or just flat out unfunny. Actually none of them were funny. I generally finish every book that I pick up, even if only on general principle, but I couldn't even finish this one. I put it down a few times thinking that I was done, and then tried to finish it just to say that I did. But with each story after that just reinforcing the lack of humor, I finally stopped after I read over half the book. That in itself was a struggle. This book is a complete waste of time.
on April 13, 2013
I heard this book was supposed to be laugh out loud funny. It really wasn't that great and some of the stories were barely entertaining. Just not my type of reading material I guess.