Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Match Girl

And the quest continues.

(The quest, for those of you who may be wondering, is to drag out a happy ending, kicking and screaming if necessary, from every story Hans Christian Andersen ever wrote.)

(Well, maybe not every story. But a lot of them.)

I believe Andersen is what I’m going to call a Religious Optimist. Basically what that means is that for a lot of his work, you have to shift your perspective for a thorough understanding, because his definition of a happy ending is based on a strong faith and a crappy life.  Which means death=heaven=happily ever after, as opposed to the general misery of daily life.

If the idea of returning to school didn’t fill me with horror and dread, my big thesis paper would totally be on this topic. “Happily Ever After: The Religious Optimism of Hans Christian Andersen.”

The facts: Andersen was a deeply religious, deeply depressed gay man in the nineteenth century. We have documentation on this from the most reputable of sources, i.e. Andersen himself.

Just try to comprehend what it would mean, the level of love and joy in Heaven, to a man who was so sad and alone on earth.

And my man Hans, he’s a realist. Does a homeless child alone on the streets in winter get whisked away by her fairy godmother and become a princess? Of course not. Life doesn’t work that way. But can a girl with no chance of a happy, healthy life on earth be happy and healthy in Heaven?

Absolutely. That’s, like, a given.

Here’s the deal. You’re an orphan living on the streets in the dead of winter. You survive on selling matches. Shockingly, not a hugely profitable career.

You die. Of course you die. You hallucinate and you die and you welcome it, because life is hell and now you get to be where the hallucinations are. What is there to live for, anyway? You’re tired, and you’re hungry, and you’re cold. Everyone you love is dead already, and everything always hurts.

Why would you want to be alive?

There are days when every thought you have, every step you take, every sight you see, brings only sadness and pain. We don’t all get to be princesses. The world doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you’re lucky just to survive. Sometimes it’s not surviving that’s really lucky.

If I ever get my hands on a time machine, the first thing I’m doing is getting Hans on some antidepressants; poor dude needs them almost as much as I do.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

12 Turtles

Today we’re gonna talk about a story I found in my collection “The Turnip Princess,” which is all stories compiled by Schonwerth. (Guys they’re amazing.)

So it’s a pretty basic story. Think “The Boy Who Set Forth to Learn What Fear Was.” Same basic pattern. You’re trying to win the hand of a princess, so you go and spend a long weekend at the local haunted castle.

There are a lot of things that can happen when you spend three nights in a haunted castle. Demons might go bowling, with your head as the ball and your ribs as the pins. They might roast you on a spit. They might peel off your skin. The ghosts come. The ghouls come. Every night you die, and if you’re brave enough you wake up in the morning alive.

Each night it gets worse. The third is the climax. And on this particular third night, in this particular story, there appear twelve turtles the size of washbasins.

In order to win the princess, you must kiss each one of these twelve turtles.

Now, fairy tales tend to have a lot of euphemisms, granted, but I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with here. Schonwerth and his translator tend to be pretty direct. All this dude has to do on his final night in the haunted castle is kiss some turtles.

Which brings us to the next thing about Schonwerth. He actually did that thing we like to pretend the Grimms did, where he wandered around collecting stories from random people across the country. And then he just wrote them down. Didn’t edit, didn’t clean them up, just wrote them down.

So these ridiculous stories he’s telling are all stories that someone told to him. Educated people, uneducated people, old people, children, mothers and fathers, people from the city, people from the country—we have no idea who.

For this particular story, I like to imagine it being told by a small child. A girl of six, perhaps.

“And then the demons boil him into soup!” she tells Schonwerth, very excited.

“Oh? And what happens next?”

She pauses, considering. “And then there are turtles.”

“And what happens with the turtles?”

“He’s gotta kiss ‘em!”

I just love Schonwerth so much, guys. There’s so much personality in his stories, and not even his own personality, a good chunk of the time.  I’ve talked a lot over the years about collective storytelling, about folklore as a conversation we’re having throughout history. Men like Schonwerth make our conversation partners feel like real people again. And it’s beautiful.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Cottage

I bought a house!

As long as I’m rearranging everything else in my life, I thought this would be a good time to rearrange my writing, marketing, and social media presence as well. Now, these things aren’t going to all take effect right away, since I’m working on them in the middle of getting set up in this new place. But here are some things you can expect moving forward.

For a fairy tale blog, I get bogged down in church issues a lot. To prevent this continuing in the future, I’ve started a separate blog exclusively for church issues. For the first few months things are mostly going to be recycled, but I’ll have new content up in a while.

I’m also preparing to start a series of book reviews for every Beauty and the Beast retelling I’ve come across. And more poems are going to be posted as I continue to work on my next book.

Over the next few months, keep an eye out for updates on goals and rewards on Patreon, new content, and information about my upcoming projects. I’ll try to make sure all content is on Patreon, as well as whatever site it originates on, so if you want to keep track of everything, just head over there; things are free to read unless I’ve specifically stated otherwise. Remember, financially supporting me on Patreon gives you access to my novel Lindworm!

Friday, July 20, 2018

This is my house

We're gonna blame the lack of recent content on this thing. New blogs and general updates coming soon; stay tuned!