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Visiting author leads fairy tale revival


Feb. 17, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.

Kate Bernheimer, founder and editor of the Fairy Tale Review journal, spoke at the University of Houston-Victoria about her effort for fairy tales to be seen as complex, empowering narratives.

Kate Bernheimer's fairy tale revival began 20 years ago with a peaceful literally movement.

Her effort was to fight a prejudice against the common idea that the timeless stories are only whimsical works created for women and children.

Bernheimer was the latest speaker at the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review reading series Thursday.

She explained her revival was focused on showing how writers continue using the stories that she describes as complex, even adult-themed narratives that cleverly weave real-life with magic.

"These stories are actually brutal to their characters," she said. "But you can always count on one thing: The good soul and the humble soul, the vulnerable will be taken care of by animals, by the universe and by magic. And I think that's a wonderful thing even if the world that we live in can't always offer us that conciliation, but a story can."

Bernheimer, who is founder and editor of the Fairy Tale Review journal, recently finished a trilogy of tales and a book publish by UHV's Fiction Collective Two titled "Horse, Flower, Bird."

Her revival culminated with another book published by the Penguin Group, "My Mother She Killed Me. My Father He Ate Me: 40 New Fairytales."

"It is a very sad, violent story about a little boy who's step-mother kills him and cooks him for his father," Bernheimer said.

The beauty of fairy tales, she said, is people can discover a world where anything can happen and where the weak are often empowered. And since anything's possible, anyone can create their own world, which makes the art form a communal process.

"I think that to experience a fairy tale is so much about reading and discovering a world where anything can happen," she said.



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