All posts by Wren Awry

Wren Awry is a writer, student and cook based in Tucson, AZ. They’re a contributor to and founding editor of Tiny Donkey, an undergraduate journal of online, fairy tale non-fiction affiliated with The Fairy Tale Review. They occasionally write criticism for the Anarcho-Geek Review, and their creative nonfiction has been published in Loom Art Zine. In the past, Wren dabbled in advocacy journalism, zine-making, and media strategy for environmental campaigns. Wren blogs at Wren is interested in folklore, ecology, history, food studies, queer issues and dismantling capitalism, state power and the U.S.-Mexico border. Their favorite literary form is the micro-essay, and their favorite food (right now) is enchiladas smothered in red chile sauce.

Reading “Fitcher’s Bird”: Fairy Tales, The Witch Trials, and Carnival

Fitcher's Bird“Fitcher’s Bird” is my favorite fairy tale. It could be yours, too. If you wanted it.

I also like the “The Juniper Tree,” and my favorite part of that story has always been when the tree resurrects the cannibalized son as a bird. He is alive again, breathing and mobile and able to drop a millstone on his murderer. But “Fitcher’s Bird” is better. In “Fitcher’s Bird,” after a sorcerer murders her two sisters, the youngest sister pieces their bodies back together, limb by bloody limb, until they are alive again. She makes sure they get safely home. Then she disguises herself as a bird, heads home through the enchanted woods, and sends her henchmen to burn the evil sorcerer’s motherfucking house down. With him and all his friends inside, of course.

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Cry-Baby (1990)



Director: John Waters

Writer: John Waters

Recommended? It’s complicated

Let’s say Cry-Baby wasn’t a movie. Let’s say it was a layer-cake. One of those candy-coated confections that give kids sugar rushes at birthday parties. Hopped up, quick witted, fun with a dash of teen angst. Bad boy Cry-Baby Walker woos good girl Allison in faded Technicolor, making fun of polio vaccinations, air raids and anti-smoking campaigns along the way. To music! (Music!) What’s not to love?

Except, oops, Waters swapped out flour for subtext, slipping in half-hidden subplots that take on race, class, and beauty norms. You bite down and realize the cake’s rich, marbled inside is really microwave meatloaf studded with broken glass. It’s probably good that you’re eating broken glass (metaphorically speaking, of course), because you sure are learning something. The problem is, most people just scrape off the icing and call it quits.

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Fairy Tales From the Brother’s Grimm by Philip Pullman

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

Fairy Tales From the Brother’s Grimm

by Philip Pullman

2012, Viking Press

Content Warning: This review mentions fairy tales that have themes of incest, femicide, and assault.

I love Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, about a pair of youngsters who wander through parallel universes, make friends with armored bears and cagey harpies, and fight in an epic battle against God. I also love fairy tales — I study them. So when I came across Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, I picked it up excitedly. And flipped to the table of contents. And discovered that my favorite Grimm’s tale, Fitcher’s Bird, isn’t included (Pullman selected fifty out of hundreds of stories). I hemmed and hawed and waited a few weeks, but I couldn’t resist: I’m a sucker for Pullman’s narrative voice.

Pullman’s voice — however lovely — is not the crux of the book. He set out to produce a clear, readable rendition of the Grimm’s classics, and his changes are light-handed. Still, the voice seeps through. Pullman smoothes over abrupt transitions and narrative holes with inventive details (I must admit, I love the awkward gaps in folk tales, and don’t always like how Pullman explains them away). He sprinkles the text with his signature anachronistic details (the devil’s grandmother reads a newspaper and Briar Rose’s parents go on special diets to help them conceive) and has fun playing with dialogue: Snow White’s speaking-in-turn dwarves turn in to a gaggle of overlapping voices.

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