(7/17/00 4:13:17 pm)
|Mirror, Mirror on the Wall|
This may sound rather silly, but I happened upon a discussion from some time ago about this anthology -- and someone asked if anyone knew anything about the editor, Kate Bernheimer. I do, because I am the editor, Kate Bernheimer. First, thanks for the compliment on the book. I hope it isn't too late to respond to your concerns about perceived omissions.
I hope it is comforting for you to know that I did invite Jane Yolen to contribute to the anthology, along with several others who would fall into the category of "genre writers" (if you look at it that way) but she and they declined, always with great kindness. I think in the case of Jane Yolen, I only heard from the agent. (It was a long time ago and I can't quite remember though I can scrounge through my files.) In any case, I had an overwhelmingly positive response from a lot of writers who did not end up as contributors, and I honestly did not try to exclude anyone at all. Please know that I don't have an aesthetic/intellectual prejudice in this regard, at all, even if the collection appears to reflect one. (Incidentally, there may be a companion volume sometime.)
(7/18/00 3:36:51 am)
Many thanks for your post about Mirror Mirror. It is a wonderful book and I have really enjoyed all the essays so very much. It seems hard for those of us in the genre to get much respect out of the genre sometimes and I think it rankles every now and then when someone like Zipes can ask Terri for her considerable opinion and advice and then turn around and ignore her work as a writer and her huge contributions as an editor. So I'm afraid its easy for us to gripe when we preceive we have been excluded, yet again. But it never stops us from reading all those great essays...and it was really reassuring to know that you had made a serious effort.
But, I also understand entirely the dilemma of the editor making choices and the need to generate a varied but concordant sort of tone in a manuscript. I am surprised Jane didn't contribute, wished she had, but was really glad to read here that she had been at least asked.
I know Terri will respond when she returns from France (tomorrow I think).
As to another volume, how wonderful! I totally look forward to it!
(7/18/00 9:38:59 am)
|Mirror, Mirror on the Wall|
Welcome to the board! Like, Midori and many others I loved your anthology. It's one I've gone back to again and again. Thank you for putting together such a wonderful collection of essays. And for whatever it's worth, I'd like to second Midori's explanation. I have trouble understanding why someone like Pat McKillip isn't acknowledged as one of the finest writers working today. Or why Terri, who not only weaves fairy tales into her own fiction and art, but who through her anthologies, website, and series has generously provided venues for so many of us to work with the tales, isn't given credit for it in a book like Zipes's. Of course, none of this is your fault, and I certainly don't mean to imply that it is. But at the risk of making some sweeping generalizations: While there does now seem to be a rennaissance of interest in fairy tales (thank goodness!), there was a long stretch when aside from Angela Carter, Syliva Townsend Warner, and a few others like Byatt, the place to find people who were actively working with fairy tales was in genre, in the books of people like Terri, Jane Yolen, Pat McKilip, Robin McKinley, and Tanith Lee. Because they were published as fantasy or--worse--children's books, many of these works have not been taken seriously by the mainstream. I confess: much as I loved your anthology, I had a knee-jerk "But fantasy writers have been working with fairy tales all along! Where are they?" reaction. So I'm very glad to hear that you did try to include people like Jane, and I'm sorry if I assumed otherwise. Whew! That was longer and more convoluted than I meant it to be. I do appreciate your posting on the board and I greatly look forward to your next book.
Thanks again for the first one,
(7/18/00 10:38:56 am)
|Re: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall|
Thanks for replying. This is a new experience for me -- I am so shy and private, it was a big leap for me to post something here!
Unfortunately, the situation you lament is not peculiar to this genre at all. I see the pattern of exclusion and inclusion all the time in publishing and criticism -- whether in anthologies, slick magazine stories, awards or book deals.
I have to say that the uneven situation is increasingly less mysterious to me. That is, though I am more and more appalled by glaring moments of oversight, I am also less and less confused about why they occur. Contributing my own critical and artistic voice to the conversation whenever possible is the only productive response for me right now.
As a writer whose work seemed destined to fall between literary cracks, I have a lot of ideas on this subject - so I'll stop here.
Side note: The anthology is really a problematic genre itself for so many reasons. (Unless one has the budget that, say, Calvino's FANTASTIC TALES had.) On a financial level, I had only a trade paperback contract and my ability to pay authors was quite limited; this limited the number I could include. I was amazed that some of the contributors agreed to write for such a paltry amount. Please know that I don't mean to avoid all responsibility for who appears the collection, which I began before I knew anything at all about this field -- the anthology emerged out of a novel I was writing that is based in part on the syntax and motifs of Yiddish, Russian and German folklore. So of course the style of my proposal may have led writers in one direction or another in terms of their interest in contributing to the project.
(7/18/00 3:18:30 pm)
It's great to have you on the board--I think you will be amazed at how many of us "fall in between the cracks" of our genres. There's a bunch of us that have decided that rather than suffer the publishing banishment to the archipeligos of one style of another, we will create our own catagory--"Interstitial Art" and push it on the professional level (as a publishing genre) and academically (Heinz Insu Frenkl and I are talking about a paper for the MLA--introduce it and make it a studiable catagory!)
We may find that odd birds like us will no longer fall into the cracks, but into the thriving community of like-minded artists who can say their work isn't really like this or that.
Don't be shy on this board. It's a very friendly place indeed. Forgive my ignorance--I read the anthology, but didn't stop to see what you the editor had published! Is your work available? I would love to see it.
(7/19/00 7:12:54 am)
|Mirror, Mirror on the Wall|
Yes, I think that kind of categorization problem is endemic to publishing today, and I imagine it's not that different in other fields. It's definitely high time for the Interstital Arts movement.
You must have done something right when contacting the authors for your anthology because you got such wonderful responses.
And I appreciate the courage it took to post on the board--and I hope it didn't feel like I was jumping down your throat.
How is the novel, by the way? It sounds very intriguing. My great-grandparents were all Eastern European Jews, and in the last few years I've realized I don't know nearly enough about their world. Alan Weisman, a friend and journalist, has written a gorgeous nonfiction chronicle, _An Echo in My Blood_ about his family and the secrets that shaped them, which begins in the Ukraine in 1890.
I do hope you'll continue to post on the board.
(7/19/00 10:23:19 am)
We know so little about my family history beyond my grandparents it is really quite appalling (yes, East European as well). I'm positive my mother has the Weisman book, and I'll read it when I visit her later this summer --thanks for the suggestion.
Thanks also for asking about the novel. I took quite a while writing it after attending graduate school in Tucson. THE COMPLETE TALES OF KETZIA GOLD is finally forthcoming in Fall 2001. (Actually, the contracts are supposed to come in the mail today -- I keep jumping up, thinking Fed Ex is here, every time my dog barks!) I'm deep in a final revision right now so it's hard to talk about the book - makes me queasy. But as I said before, it does draw upon German, Russian and Yiddish folklore. What else can I say about it? It is sad. I am trying to get the rights for a few images to include as well. Is that all too annoyingly vague?
Someone else, I think, asked where she could find my 'other' work. I haven't tried to publish anything besides the anthology and novel. I'm working at present on a series of tales that I will soon begin to send out.
I will certainly keep posting to the board. The discussions you have here seem really interesting and very useful. I'm looking forward to the dialogue, and hope I have something to contribute. Thanks for your kindness so far.
(7/19/00 3:21:33 pm)
My father's family are also Eastern European jews (from Romania) that emigrated to France. The war left a huge legacy of family histories that I am still unwinding, even after his death. (including the fact that his expatriot American father wasn't really his father--his real father was the other Jewish immigrant tailor from Romania a block over who happened to be married and had a son at the time he was having an affair with my Grandmother.) Oy.
Do you know the wonderful collection of Jewish folktales, "Lilith's Cave". I think its edited by a Schwartz and I just seem to find it on my shelves right now. I may have lent it out!
It was me who asked you about your published work. I hope by now the contracts have arrived! And congratulations.
(7/20/00 6:43:33 am)
|Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold|
You'll have to let us know when it's out. It sounds fascinating. And sorry we never connected when you were in Tucson. I've been here since '90. Terri is here winters.
Midori, yes, it's *Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural* by Howard Schwartz, Oxford U. Press. It was one of the best sources on Lilith I found when I was researching her. There's also an interesting Jungian study out but it gets, well...very Jungian. Schwartz, btw, has also written, *Elijah's Violin and Other Jewish Fairy Tales,* and *Miriam's Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from Around the World.*
There's a book that came out this past year, *The River Midnight* by Lilian Nattel, which takes place in the Warsaw shtetl and apparently features angels and demons and other elements from Jewish folklore. Haven't gotten to it yet -- it's in my stack of books to be read this summer.
The last time our family got together we got out a VCR and got my mom to tell stories of her family, but she's one of the last of her generation still alive, and so many of the stories are already lost. And of course, stories always change a bit with each telling. So much of what happened in "the old country" can only be imagined. [One of the things Alan did when writing his book was to track down every living relative, and much the book hinges on how their stories differed.) In my family, none of the folklore came down at all. The fairy tales I was told as a child were all from the western European tradition. The family stories were: who married whom, how they escaped Russia, how many of them lived cramped together in cold-water flats on the Lower East Side.... Still, they were an interesting bunch, running the spectrum from rogues to the annoyingly pious. I wish now that we'd started recording the stories years ago.
Kate, good luck with all of it: contracts, revisions and permissions on the art!
(7/31/00 12:24:16 am)
Kate: I'm so glad that you've
turned up on this chat board! I absolutely adore your collection,
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. It never goes back onto the book shelf
because I keep picking it up and re-reading it; it's SO inspiring.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating it.
Like Ellen and Midori, I was also very frustrated to see that
some of the modern writers who have worked most tenaciously with
adult fairy tale material were not included (Patricia McKillip,
Tanith Lee, Delia Sherman, Midori Snyder, Robin McKinley, etc.
etc. ...) and I also jumped to the conclusion that this was a
bias against authors whose work is published with a genre label.
It is very good to know that this wasn't the case. Prior to this,
I've loved your book with that one reservation; now I can love
it without any reservations...so thank you for bravely writing
in to this board and correcting our erroneous asumptions. As Midori
and Ellen have both said, writers who publish under a fantasy
label are so used to being ignored by mainstream critics and academics
(many of whom assume its all dungeons-and-dragons, god help us),
that it's all too easy to get too touchy on the subject.
As Ellen said, for many years the fantasy field was the only place
to go if you cared passionately about fairy tales and wanted to
created adult literature based on it -- unless you had the credentials
of an Angela Carter or Margaret Atwood. As young writers in the
1980s, we created our own little sub-genre within the fantasy
field, which was something of a trade-off. By doing this, we were
able to get published, make a living, and reach an eager and informed
readership....but we traded away any hope of literary respectability.
Ah well. Women fairy-tale-tellers have rarely had literary respectability,
so at least we fit neatly into a long tradition.
Years ago, the stories were
dismissed as "old wives tales," now they can be dismissed
as fantasy...but the old tales themselves retain their power.
As you demonstrated so nicely in your collection.
Your new novel sounds wonderful. And I'm sorry that your path
didn't cross with mine or Ellen's while you were in Tucson. I
live there in the winter months, and in rural England the rest
of the year. Do you ever come back for a visit?
(8/2/00 12:23:12 pm)
Ah, literary respectability is overrated anyway. I am deeply suspicious of anyone purporting to have it!
Seriously -- thank you for the compliments on the anthology. I am so flattered by what you say. And again, I honestly apologize if it looks aesthetically biased. Obviously you should have been among the contributors, as well as so many others you mention. (I also would like to apologize for the absolutely novice tone of its introduction -- ugh.) I will be curious to know what people think of my novel, if anyone reads it, that is. It's a strange and sad little book that I sculpted for many years, starting back in Arizona. I was so immersed in the folklore I used for writing it that I began to talk in a quite peculiar tone, even.
By the way, I do visit Tucson quite often. I think my next trip there will be in early December. A friend of mine just bought a place near the west monument, and I am aching to see it. I lived in Tucson in the early 90s, and miss the desert terribly.
I am so happy to have found this board. I am quite daunted by all the knowledge here, so will dip my feet in slowly.
Thanks again for the nice welcome.
(8/3/00 11:48:32 pm)
Kate, you are far too modest; I see no "novice tone" in your introduction, and the book is a treat from start to finish. And you have several eager readers here for your mythic novel when it's completed!
Have you read Heinz Insu Fenkl's Memories of My Ghost Brother or Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark? Both novels wind folklore into autobiographical tales, the first Asian-American, the second Irish.
I'm glad to hear that you still have ties to Tucson. I won't be back until early January, but if you visit any time between Jan. and May, please let me know. I share a winter house on the Tucson outskirts with Ellen Steiber (who is the Ellen on this board), and I *think* she'll be there for most of December. (Ellen?) At the moment, I'm home in rural western England, where it's wet, wet, wet, as usual....
If you do come to Tucson in December, please call. I'd love to get together, and if you're downtown, I could also show you Terri's studio and art. I expect to be around except for the weekend of Dec. 10 when I'll be teaching at writer's conference in Big Sur and Christmas when I'll be in San Antonio.
Feel free to contact me off-list:
(8/8/00 11:12:20 am)
Thanks for the suggestions (Fenkl and Deane's novels). I haven't read either, and will definitely take a look when I'm done revising my book -- which will have to be by February or else! Until then I am afraid I am on a strict diet of nonfiction. But I am already compiling my list of readings to tackle afterwards. By the way, I live in Oregon, and intimately understand the 'wet, wet, wet as usual' you describe.
And Ellen, yes, if I do come to Tucson in December I will certainly contact you beforehand. I expect I will come in December, and also in the spring. It would be nice to meet others in the 'field.'
(8/9/00 12:20:40 am)
....Oh good, I'm glad you're coming in the spring too. I'll be there from January till the end of May, and it would be lovely to meet you.