Rotten Relations

Thursday, March 3, 2011
ANTHOLOGY EDITED BY DENISE LITTLE

Everybody knows Santa Clause, right? The jolly fat guy in the red suit who brings presents to all good little children.
But did you ever wonder what it would be like to be Santa's child?
Especially in the 20th century?
"Every year it's the same. Out all night on Christmas Eve, he flies back in the middle of Christmas Day with a massive sugar hangover, and falls into bed without a Merry Christmas to anyone."
So grumbles Santa's not-quite-thirteen-year-old son, self-nicknamed 'Sharp,' in Home for the Holidays. It's one of 15 stories in the anthology Rotten Relations, edited by Denise Little.
" ... It's worse since Dad took over the Three Kings' outfit. Months of negotiations in Mexico, conference calls from Spain at all hours, and now he insists on going out personally on Epiphany, too. Rides a burro behind the three camels. Comes home with saddle sores."
"Sharp" sounds like every other kid slouching through the early teen years since adolescence was invented -- your parents have gone from people you look up to, to the leading citizens of Dorkville. But it's done with such humour that you can't help but sympathize, even as you grin.
Among the other stories:
* the real lowdown on why Grendel killed Beowulf (father abandones pregnant girlfriend, never bothers to check up on his son, you gotta think that's gonna

come back and bite you ... in this case, literally ...),
* an intriguing retelling of Cinderella (which girl did the prin
ce really get?),
* a follow-up to Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story Young Goodman Brown -- by no less than a distant relative of Hawthorne's,
* Mirror, Mirror cleverly
combines the Snow White story with a recognizable retelling of the story of Henry VIII -- though his last wife bore little resemblance to the story's narrator;
* the story of the young Arthur, from his arrival in Sir Ector's household until
his coronation feast, told from the point of view of Sir Ector's son Kay -- and this Arthur has an edge that we don't usually see in the legends.

My favourites in this anthology were Mirror, Mirror and Cuckoo's Egg (the Arthurian tale), mainly because I've got a strong interest in both Tudor history and Arthurian legend to begin with.
But most of the stories are engaging, clever and well-written.
Of them, I found Rapunzel -- The True Story to be the most confusing. The last line reads, "The scene held for a moment before collapsing into something else, as all the scenes of life are wont to do, especially if a witch is stage-managing them." I could wish that the witch in question had stage-managed things in a more orderly fashion; I found it hard to keep track of exactly what was happening as the story progressed.
Still, given the wide array of familiar characters in unfamiliar settings, times and storylines, it's an anthology that's well worth checking out.

17 comments:

{ Real(ity) Love Critic } at: March 4, 2011 at 8:43 AM said...

Can I just say first and foremost that if I had a dad who was Santa Claus, I would be the happiest person. Secondly, the prince didn't choose CInderella? What's with that? I have to say that authors should not be able to tamper with classic fairy tales. I guess it intrigues a reader, initially, to read about an already existing tale, but those stories always ruin the original for me.

{ Jessica } at: March 4, 2011 at 8:56 AM said...

I think sometimes it's interesting to see a traditional story from a new point of view. This post reminds me of the play Wicked. It follows the story of the Bad Witch in The Wizard of Oz before she became evil.

{ Durfy } at: March 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM said...

I agree with Jessica when I was reading this review I also thought of Wicked. I like that there are new fresh takes and points of view on old stories.

{ Liz } at: March 5, 2011 at 9:25 AM said...

It sounds quite interesting and I also enjoy to see old stories modernized and made fresh for future generations.

{ Catherine - Takin' Care of Fitness } at: March 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM said...

I think the idea of modernizing these stories is interesting, but I usually don't enjoy these stories as much. The originals are how the story was meant to be, so I think the story line should remain the same. Making the story identify with modern day people and practises is cool, but don't change the story!

{ Ann } at: March 9, 2011 at 9:24 PM said...

This sounds really interesting. I never really thought of Santa having a child who is even capable of being unhappy. However, I do appreciate the different perspective on the stories.

{ Katie } at: March 10, 2011 at 4:40 PM said...

This is very interesting, I never thought they would re-make some of these stories. I'm on the fence with how I feel about modernizing old stories. On one hand, it's important to bring a new and relevant point of view to the story to be able to relate to today's society. On the other hand, a classic is a classic, and it would be a shame if modernized version replace the traditional story.

{ Aisling } at: March 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM said...

This sounds interesting. I don't like to see different approaches to classic stories though. I'm pretty traditional and I don't like when people switch things up.

{ Lauren Adkins } at: March 11, 2011 at 4:35 PM said...

I agree with Katie about the re-make of classics, why change a classic? What drew you to this type of book?

{ Anna } at: March 12, 2011 at 8:19 PM said...

I am a sucker for classic, although this is a really interesting spin on these stories, I would still have to say that I like the traditional ones the best.

{ Katie Mitchell } at: March 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM said...

This sounds really interesting! Although I like classics, sometimes a modern twist really work.

{ Jewel } at: March 20, 2011 at 8:11 AM said...

That's a really neat idea, I love seeing a classic from a another point of view or modernized. However, some things should be left alone.

{ britt. } at: March 20, 2011 at 12:21 PM said...

Mona,
This sounds like such an interesting anthology. I took a Children's Literature course in University, and found some of the "real" original stories were much darker than the ones I knew and loved. I wonder if that is the case with any of these stories as well. {And the Santa Claus story sounds so unique!!}

{ Kimberlie } at: March 20, 2011 at 1:52 PM said...

This was an extremely interesting post. The story sounds fascinating. After reading your review I tried to imagine what it would be like to be Santa's child, something I had never imagined before. I have come to the conclusion that I don't think I would enjoy it. This would be a very interesting read.

{ Laura } at: March 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM said...

I love to read; however, I haven’t read very many fantasy novels. This story sounds like it would be very interesting. Thanks for recommending it.

{ Alicia } at: March 21, 2011 at 12:28 PM said...

I've never been interested books like this, but I have learned more now. I would have to read one before I decide whether I am traditional or not. I might consider reading one this summer. Thank you Mona

{ Mona } at: March 22, 2011 at 9:25 AM said...

Lauren: The title drew me in first (let's just say I almost expected to find some relatives in there!) and the first story was the clincher.
Having said that, I have to agree that I often don't care for 'updated' classics. It's a very difficult thing to pull off and often it's just annoying. Some of these stories worked ... some didn't. But the book is still a 'keeper'.

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