“Three R’s of Narrative Nonfiction” over at the New York Times today, by a writer of adult narrative nonfiction, addresses the same issues we grapple with when considering narrative nonfiction for youth (and are especially considering it over at Heavy Medal). Be sure to read the comments.
Daily Archives: December 18, 2012
“Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm,” then, is effectively an album in which a gifted contemporary composer covers classic songs. As Mr. Pullman notes, an enormous relief and pleasure “comes over the writer who realizes that it’s not necessary to invent: the substance of the tale is there already, just as the sequence of chords in a song is there ready for the jazz musician.” And his repertory is undeniably first-rate. These stories, honed through generations of tellers, are the survivors of literary evolution. They are here because they work.
Recognizing this, Mr. Pullman keeps his touch light, lending the stories a plain-spoken, casual voice and respecting the strange transformations, reversals of fortune and patterns of three that give them their power. He concludes each tale with a brief analytical note — praising or criticizing the story, pulling out a piquant detail, sometimes suggesting improvements. This is shoptalk, essentially — an expert narrator pointing out the storytelling triumphs or missteps of his forebears — and it is fascinating.
From an excellent New York Times piece on Philip Pullman’s new fairy tale collection. Highly recommended.