Friday, March 6, 2009

Kevin Brockmeier on Fairy Tales

All week, we've been running excerpts from our interview with Kevin Brockmeier which appears in the latest issue of The Yalobusha Review. Today, being Thursday, is part of this week, and so here's another bit of Brockmeier goodness in which he discusses why he loves fairy tales.

CK: To switch back to something you were talking about earlier, trying to translate stories you loved as a child for an adult audience, there’s the epigraph at the beginning of Things That Fall From the Sky from G.K. Chesterton about fairy tales. A lot of people when they think of fairy tales, they just think of them as a sort of children’s literature you grow out of, but it’s something you acknowledge and seem to draw inspiration from. I wondered what you loved about them, why they inspire you, and how they influence you?

KB: I suppose it’s just, well, two things: one, is that they always seem to be driven forward by a very strong storytelling voice, one that welcomes you into the narrative. I find that compelling. Aside from that, as a reader I’m simply attracted to stories that have an element of fantasy about them. Not all of my own writing does, but some of it does. Probably the writing that’s gotten the most attention does. That element of fantasy is an important part of the fairy tales I loved when I was growing up, and then the fairy tales I’ve discovered as an adult as well. Italo Calvino is one of my favorite writers, and I slowly read through his body of work over the past ten or fifteen years. The last of his books I got around to was his edition of Italian Folktales, which is a set of retellings, maybe an 800 page volume. It contains many, many traditional Italian folk and fairy tales. I resisted reading it for a long time because it didn’t feel like one of Calvino's books really, since none of the stories were original to him, he didn't produce them out of his own imagination. And yet I found myself completely immersed in it when I did read it, and the fables in the new collection were generated out of a desire on my part to write the kind of stories that might fit naturally into a collection like that.

Tune in tomorrow for those portions of our interview with Mr. Brockmeier that due to space didn't make it into the magazine.

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