Any parent, who is in the habit of narrating bedtime stories to their kids, would understand when I say I am bugged of fairy tales. Do you know how many times I’ve enacted ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’? It’s just a little more than ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Snow White’. It’s only in the last couple of years, since Geronimo Stilton and Wimpy Kid have taken over the household, and bedtime-story duties have been handed over to the hubby, that I’ve finally escaped from the whole routine of voice modulations and elaborate actions. I would be happy not to read another fairy tale forever again or, so I thought! Carthick has proved me wrong.
The seven stories in his collection ‘Unfairy Tales’ are a retelling of popular fairy tales bringing out the not-so-fair parts in them. His tales prove how the story changes based on who is telling it. Isn’t that why every new government changes the school history books first?
Coming to the individual stories, ‘Of Mice and Horses’ is my most favourite story in the collection. It has this beautiful quote: ‘The effects of substances are always easy to cure – it is the effects of ideologies that present serious difficulties.’ The stories can be read as just that—unfairy tales—or you could explore the subtle satire and undertones present in all of them. I found myself nodding in acceptance to many thoughts expressed in the book.
‘When things turn bad, people more often than not end up choosing the worst among them to lead.’
‘Many lives, especially those of men, have been ruined by the constant longing to return to that one moment of grandeur from the past that one can never revisit.’
At many places, his characters start to wander off into the depths of thought and philosophise about their lives and society. While this is necessary and has been beautifully done in most places, I found it cumbersome and distracting towards the end. I should probably blame myself for reading the book in a single sitting.
The language prowess of the author is evident in the way the sentences are structured and the stories are drawn out. The book would be suitable for anyone from the age of eight till eighty. Each person would draw something different from the tales based on their own experiences. That’s the beauty of this collection.