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Unexplained Fevers Paperback – March 30, 2013
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From the Back Cover
Fairy Tale Heroines, Freed
Jeannine Hall Gailey's third book, Unexplained Fevers, frees fairy tale heroines from their glass coffins and towers while simultaneously looking at the traps that contemporary women encounter - body image, drug abuse, illness - and how to find power and freedom beyond these limitations. Gailey's trademark wit, charm and energy fill these pages with stories of forests and seascapes, mythical creatures, and the allure of the forbidden.
"Unexplained Fevers plucks the familiar fairy tale heroines and drops them into alternate landscapes. Unlocking them from the old stories is a way to "rescue the other half of [their] souls." And so Sleeping Beauty arrives at the emergency room, Red Riding Hood reaches the car dealership, and Rapunzel goes wandering in the desert - their journeys, re-imagined in this inventive collection of poems, produce other dangers, betrayals and nightmares, but also bring forth great surprise and wonder."
- Rigoberto González, author of Black Blossoms
"Unexplained Fevers begins with that most familiar of phrases, "Once upon a time," but the world we find inside these covers is deeply defamiliarized. Trapped by physical ills, cultural expectations, and the constraints of marriage, these heroines interrogate the world and propel themselves through it with cunning and sass. We follow, for example, Jack and Jill though a prose poem where they "somehow turned thirty without thunderous applause," after having sworn they "would follow each other anywhere, but anywhere turned out to be a lot like Ohio." At the center of these poems - urgent, mysterious, evocative - we find the great topic of all fairy tales, transformation. Read Unexplained Fevers, and be transformed."
- Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables
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In this collection we have Snow White, "Not a party princess, not ready to embrace / the noisy prince just yet," who instead yearns for a sister, a fellow woman-at-arms, who "might even / talk me down from this glass ledge, / this solitude of sleep, might shake me til the apple / drops from my mouth and I finally find my tongue" ("I Like the Quiet: Snow White").
There is Rapunzel, who doesn't "need a partner to dance," and who writes a heart-breaking letter to her mother who "willingly...traded / [her] for a handful of lettuce" ("A Letter To The Rampion Lover").
Next is Sleeping Beauty who is thought to "[wait] for a kiss / but she's the one who planted those briars, / who fed her dog sleeping pills / and shut herself away" ("Sure, Beauty Sleeps").
And then there is the Little Mermaid who "was the disobedient daughter, the one who couldn't bear / a life on the waves" and whose "prince was merely an interlude" ("The Mermaid Loses Her Voice").
Other reviewers have mentioned notable poems in this collection and to this list I add the voices of Jack and Jill, Alice in Wonderland, "Sleeping Beauty's Insomniac Twin," and "The Knight [who] Wonders What, Exactly, He Rescued."
Finally, the traditional fairy tale isn't the only thing Gailey experiments with here as she also plays around with couplets, prose poems, and sonnets. Each turn of the page is a new surprise as we are greeted by an old character who is transformed into someone new through Gailey's snappy wit and keen insights. Each time you read this collection, you are bound to uncover something unexpected and yet achingly real.
Jeannine Hall Gailey's voice invites the reader with humor, poignancy, and incredible ability to tell a story. She leads the reader further into her own fairytale, where Jack & Jill consider their relationship and if they want to climb another hill.
Reading these poems I felt as if Gailey was next to me ready to share with me secrets of life and living, as in the poem, "I Forgot to Tell You the Most Important Part..." where she write, "Without this knowledge, you'll never make it:/ it's one part fashion advice and two parts survivalist. . ." She continues, ". . .stir gently. Forget about your shoes; people will judge / you by your shine, the imminent light you offer them. . ."
One of my favorite poems in the collection is, "Cautionary Tale About Women Who Turn Into Birds." Here Gailey begins,
Sweeping their pale feathers from the floor.
They were always hungry, always about to take flight.
Broody. Brooding. Interested in silk thread, in shine.
One day you will speak their language.
One day you will learn to fly.
One day you too will see the iron lake and meet your brothers in the air.
Jeannine Hall Gailey in an amazing poet and writer. It is hard to read her work without wanting to turn the page and see what's next. Fans of Becoming the Villainess will continue to love these poems and new readers can begin to discover Gailey's love and obsession for folklore (also check out her book She Returns To The Floating World now on Kindle too, another beautiful collection). Unexplained Fevers is a book of poems that is smart, full of wit and energy, that truly entertain and never lose momentum throughout the collection. Definitely recommend this!
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