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Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version - Philip Pullman, Jacob Grimm Review originally posted here.I requested this book from NetGalley early in October.  I knew thought I didn't have a chance at being accepted (because the bigger publishers usually reject me [this isn't me looking for sympathy, it's just that I get denied all the time]), but figured I'd try anyway for a few reasons.1.  It's Philip Effing Pullman.2.  It's faerie tales.3.  I am EXACTLY this book's target demographic.Several weeks went by and I heard nothing, so I assumed that meant I was going to be rejected yet again.  I had already resolved that I'd buy it as soon as it went on sale, though, because see the above 3 points.THEN!  I got the email.  The email that said I was approved.  And I had to read it three times to make sure that "approved" wasn't some new iteration of "denied" that I wasn't familiar with....and then there were issues with downloading on NetGalley, and various other issues and I thought I was NEVER GOING TO GET TO READ THE DAMN BOOK.But I persevered and it was finally loaded on my reader, so I curled up and started reading.Really, before sitting down with it, I'd assumed this book was going to be a bunch of faerie tales actually re-told by Pullman.  Because, y'know - the blurb says this:Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.(emphasis mine)It was clear to me within the first few pages of the introduction, though, that this was not to be the case.[...] my main interest has always been in how the tales worked as stories. All I set out to do in this book was tell the best and most interesting of them, clearing out of the way anything that would prevent them from running freely. I didn’t want to put them in modern settings, or produce personal interpretations or compose poetic variations on the originals; I just wanted to produce a version that was as clear as water. My guiding question has been: ‘How would I tell this story myself, if I’d heard it told by someone else and wanted to pass it on?’Oh, okay then.  So, he's not so much RETELLING them, as he is re-telling them.  I know, that last sentence probably only makes sense in my own head, but if you were in my head with me, I can assure you that you'd be nodding in agreement."Well, why would I even want to read this, if it's just all the same stories I already know?"Gosh, you guys ask so many questions in my imagination.Listen, here's the clever bit with this book.  It's not just the stories, which are kind of a combination of all the different tellings.  It's the commentary.  After each story, Pullman leaves us little notes, telling us which versions he's used, which ATU each one follows (which I totally used to have memorized back in my teens when FAERIE TALES WERE LIFE) and what he would have done differently, were he actually re-telling the story.An example:  At the end of Hansel and Gretel, he expressed disappointment that the children returned home after outsmarting the witch only to find that the step-mother had already conveniently died, so their Happy Ever After was practically guaranteed at that point.  Pullman said if he was re-writing it as a novel, they would have come home to find either that she was still "ruling the roost," or that he'd have the father kill her to be rid of her (sidenote:  Mr Pullman, if you write this story, I will throw my money in your face and buy it immediately - no joke).Now, if you're not really big on the original folk-stories in the first place, you might not dig this as much as I did.  This is more of an annotated Grimm/Lang/Perrault, etc. than it is anything new.  If, however, you fall into my the camp that thinks something like this sounds holy freaking crap amazing, I think you should rush right out and buy it (but not until November 8 if you're in the US).I know, I'm so mean - I'm talking about a book you'll have to wait OVER A WEEK FOR.  If you're in the UK (or, um...anywhere served by the Penguin Classics based out of the UK), you can buy this now.  It just has a different title and cover.  You'll be looking for Grimm Tales for Young and Old and I'll be cursing you under my breath because I totally want the cover that comes with your version of the book.Thank you so much to Penguin/Viking for giving me a chance to read this early.  I'll be buying myself a copy to put on my shelves next to the rest of my faerie tale collection.