July 8, 2013
Joosen, Vanessa. Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2011. Pp. 376, notes, works cited, index. $29.95 paper.
The Ohio State University
Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings by Vanessa Joosen is a unique contribution to fairy-tale scholarship that moves beyond standard ideas about intertextuality, expanding the concept to include academic texts. In well-written, clear prose, Joosen posits contemporary retellings of fairy tales have been extensively influenced by academic studies that have engaged with the fairy tale form, both knowingly and unknowingly (17), and that fairy tale retellings frequently reinterpret and analyze traditional fairy tales in the same way that criticism does (2). She stresses that this interaction is “an intertextual dialogue in the truest sense” (3), that fairy-tale criticism and fairy-tale retellings are involved in a constant back and forth conversation.
July 1, 2013
Debra Lattanzi Shutika. Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. $65.00, hardcover. $27.95, paperback. $27.95, e-book.
Folklorist Debra Lattanzi Shutika’s Beyond the Borderlands might appear atypical, but the material remains relevant to folklorists. Folklife and material culture researchers and those interested in a sense of place or identity, a sense of belonging, will find food for thought in chapter 3, which describes the translocal, village-to-village identity of the migrants who moved from a prosperous Guanajuato village to a more prosperous village in Pennsylvania. Shutika goes into detail about the memorials they set up, in their village of origin, to themselves and their families by preserving for decades their pre-migration houses, called casas vacias (vacant houses) which in reality are full of their life stories and dreams. (more…)
June 17, 2013
Peña, Manuel. Where the Ox Does Not Plow: A Mexican American Ballad. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008. 233 pages. $19.95 hardcover.
Where the Ox Does Not Plow by Manuel Peña is a narrative ethnography written in first person. It consists of first-hand accounts of basic human experiences, such as childhood tales, written portraits of family members, and love stories, as they relate to the Mexican born Manuel Peña. (more…)
June 17, 2013
Rovine, Victoria L. Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008. $24.95 paper.
The second edition of Victoria Rovine’s book, Bogolan: Shaping Culture through Cloth in Contemporary Mali, presents a well-structured look at Bogolan traditional cloth in Mali. She focuses her writing on Bamako, the capital of the West African country. Throughout the book she explores themes of identity, authenticity, and tradition, as they are connected with the popular cloth, called bogolan. Bogolan is a traditional Malian cloth, which typically requires a labor-intensive process to create. Rovine details the production process, from the weaving of the cloth to the multiple dyeing processes. The author provides a concise overview of the cloth, as well as a solid background for her arguments about the cloth’s changing role in Mali and abroad. (more…)
April 22, 2013
Salsi, Lynn. The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: Keeper of the Jack Tales. Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 2008. $34.95. Print.
Lynn Salsi’s The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: The Keeper of the Jack Tales is a biography of Ray Hicks, a master storyteller from Banner Elk, North Carolina. Hicks farmed in the Appalachian Mountains his entire life, and the “Jack Tales” referred to in the title of this book were passed down through his family in that area. He had very little money his entire life, worked from sunup to sundown just to keep his family fed, and spent most of his free time telling the stories he had learned from his grandfather or playing the French harp (harmonica). Although the book is basically a rundown of some of the most important aspects and events in Hicks’s life, some reoccurring themes emerge. For example, Hicks was very proud of the fact that he stayed home, cared for his mother, and was not bound by material items. Hicks was also proud… that he was the “true” holder of the “Jack Tales,” which were stories featuring a poor character from the mountains—Jack—who behaved much the way Hicks did. In fact Hicks repeatedly claimed that he and Jack were the same person. (more…)
April 1, 2013
Jessica Tiffin. Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale. Detriot: Wayne State University Press, 2009. 253pp. $29.95, bibliographical references and index (pbk. Alk: paper).
Marvelous Geometry is a book on literary adaptations of traditional fairy tale forms, and while useful to a folklorist with a literary background, seems to be mainly intended for people with a literary focus, and an interest in folklore and fairy tales. This is not strictly a folklore text, and gives background on folklore scholarship for those unfamiliar with the field. Said background is handled admirably, and this book would be useful for anyone studying literary fairy tales, feminist reinterpretations of fairy tales, popular reinterpretations of fairy tales, or anything along that line. (more…)
January 21, 2013
Keagan LeJeune. Always For the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War. Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2010. Pp. xvi+220, 22 b&w illustrations, index. $29.95 cloth.
In this book, LeJeune writes about the complicated—and often contested—history of a legendary figure in Merryville, Louisiana: Leather Britches Smith. The area around Merryville was part of a contested zone known as “the Neutral Strip” that was left unprotected after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. LeJeune reports that this area has a history of being a liminal space, existing as a wild place in between areas of civilization. Though not a native of the area, Smith has come to embody the wilderness spirit of the Neutral Strip because his history is equally ambiguous and notorious. LeJeune explains that Smith is an “outlaw-hero” figure who at the same time represents the ideals and possibilities of the area, and also the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of the zone. Smith’s involvement in the 1912 Grabow War at the Galloway Mill in Grabow, Louisiana would ultimately both secure his place in local lore and lead to his demise. (more…)