In Kate Bernheimer’s introduction to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, she likens the book to a handmade topsy-turvy doll. The book, a fairytale anthology, takes a familiar thing and flips it on its head, just like a Little Red Riding Hood whose dress turns inside out to reveal an elderly Grandmother and Big Bad Wolf. In the book, more than 40 writers reinterpret classic tales from places as far-flung as Russia and Vietnam, allowing the terrors of modern life to dance darkly through the prism of the fantastic. Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike approach the violence and vagaries of bad marriages through the story of Bluebeard; Stacey Richter examines Cinderella through medical records that suggest the princess is a junkie and the prince a pusher; Michael Cunningham follows the last of the Six Swans into a dingy bar for sad creatures whose spells are never fully lifted; and Joy Williams uses Baba Yaga to reveal the unsavory truth about ornithologist John James Audubon. For this year’s final installment of the Lit&Lunch series, How to Translate Fairy Tales, the Center for the Art of Translation has invited editor Bernheimer, contributor Ilya Kaminsky, and folklore scholar Maria Tatar to discuss the power of fairy tales, the pitfalls of modernization, and the mottled achievements within My Mother … My Father. A reading from the book happens after nightfall at another venue.
Tue., June 12, 12:30 p.m., 2012