May 2015 Reading Log

A Companion to the Fairy Tale edited by Hilda Ellis Davidson and Anna Chaudhri is what is says on the tin. The introduction and the first couple of essays gave me a pretty good grounding in fairy tale scholarship as it stood at the time (2006), at least so far as I can tell. I had fun comparing arguments about how tales should be recorded with similar arguments I remember from my anthropology background about how ethnography should be recorded, and how methods of recording data affect the scholarship that follows.

Even though I remember being somewhat distressed by some of the stories of Hans Christian Andersen when I was a kid, an essay on his work has made me want to give him another try, particularly if I can find a library copy of the recommended translation (by R.P. Keigwin). Maybe not all of them will traumatize me? Also, I would now like to read the tales of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, which sound fascinating, and which were new to me.

In the chapter about cumulative tales, the author has a lot of fun with language while exploring the nuances of “The Pancake,” “The Gingerbread Man,” etc.. I especially enjoyed the chapter on helpers and adversaries, which gave me a lot of Thoughts about these figures in genre fiction. “Finding the First Fairy Tales” also gave me a lot to think about, and reminded me that one day I want to get back to reading Classics in translation. “Unknown Cinderella: The Contribution of Marian Roalfe Cox to the Study of the Fairytale” by Pat Schaefer was really interesting from a historical perspective – I’d like to read more about Cox at some point.

In the same fairy tale vein, I read and enjoyed Shadowskin, a poem by Shveta Thakrar at Strange Horizons.

The Half-Back by Ralph Henry Barbour was published in 1909, and features a Big Football Game between thinly disguised Harvard and Yale. Interesting historical bits: “some pumpkins” was still in use as an expression; “cars” were streetcars, and the sound of their bells was frequent and distinctive; “coach” was still used for a horse-drawn vehicle.

I don’t remember this from other Barbour I’ve read, but this time athletics were touted several times as being good to clear the mind for intense study; one of the virtues of the protagonist, Joel, is that he convinces his dedicated golfer friend that he needs to study more, and the friend’s class standing improves. However, the boy who reads adventure tales and wants to be a writer turns out to do a Bad Thing. The chief ‘villain,’ who begins the book by insulting the hero, later shows his badness further through petty revenge and cowardice, but by the end appears humble and redeemed; his redemption happened entirely offstage.

I’d been saving Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction for a special occasion. This collection is All Kate Bishop, All the Time, something I’d been wanting. Kate gets annoyed at Clint and takes off for California, bringing Pizza Dog/Lucky with her to enjoy some fun in the sun. Alas, she ends up fighting Madame Masque and her bellboy goons, but makes friends with a nice gay couple and some weird noir guy she meets in the catfood aisle. The artist has changed more than once in this series, but the clean, open, artsy style has mostly remained consistent throughout. This is the first time I’ve seen work by Annie Wu, and I really liked her take on the characters.

A Finely Honed Talent for Self-Deception by Sholio offers excellent Wanda Maximoff pov, in conversation with Tony Stark, post Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Domenika Marzione’s Black Widow story The Velveteen Spider incorporates events from Age of Ultron.

The Dud by nimmieamee is another take on how Bucky met Steve when they were kids, and Steve was a newsboy. I loved the historical detail in this one.

Of Questionable Character by thecompanystore pairs up a pre-Daredevil Matt Murdock with Natasha Romanov, in a series of enjoyable encounters. I really wish this story was longer: The Goldilocks Principle, also by thecompanystore is a brief, pitch-perfect encounter between Daredevil and The Winter Soldier.

hold me until we crumble by queenklu: Captain America uses his obsession with Antiques Roadshow to explore his depression about being adrift in the future.

Subjective Histories by Odsbodkins: Captain America’s biography keeps getting delayed by S.H.I.E.L.D. due to certain revelations about the exact relationship between Steve and Bucky.

The Hand-me-downers by Vehemently: a Dark Angel/Supernatural crossover which cleverly makes use of Jensen Ackles’ roles in both shows. A middle-aged Dean Winchester believes Alec is his son. Alec knows otherwise.

Amateur Cartography by worksofstone: Hermione Granger appears to be having a summer fling with Draco Malfoy; she’s in denial that to Draco, it’s more.

I absolutely loved Life Sentence by astolat, a Fast and Furious slash story with prisons and soul bonding. Trust me, it’s excellent, even if you don’t normally like the Bonding trope.

Worried about banana extinction? Try this (mostly) humorous story with Bucky Barnes and Clint Barton, If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake by OddityBoddity. It has background slash, but is a gen adventure story.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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