Adult fairy tales – not for the faint-hearted, indeed!
Valerie Volk has transported and adapted many of the classic Brothers Grimm tales into a modern context, demonstrating that the "real" can sometimes be more bizarre and horrific than the imaginary.
With witty prose pieces to set the scene and Leszek Hermanowicz's clever drawings to enhance the mood, each poem becomes a tour de force, demonstrating how these tales still have relevance today.
The Brothers would certainly approve!
Valerie Volk has always been a closet writer, starting as a seven-year-old with a collection of embarrassingly bad fairy stories. In the intervening decades as a student, teacher, lecturer, examiner, researcher, education program director, wife, mother of four, and grandmother of six, writing has been a secret indulgence.
Now, in this new life as an author, she has published many poems, award-winning short stories, and two books: In Due Season, a collection of poems that won the national Omega Writers’ CALEB Poetry award in 2010, and A Promise of Peaches, a verse novel, in 2011. Her third book, Even Grimmer Tales, is a collection of twisted adaptations of the already dark tales of the Brothers Grimm, and her fourth book is nearing completion.
In her lighter moments, she loves reading, film, theatre, travel, classical music, especially opera, jazz and people watching – a never-ending source of interest.
ISBN 9781921869990 (PB, 96pp)
|AUD $25||USD $18||NZD $28||GBP £12||EUR €14|
|ISBN 9781922120007 (ePub) – release date 15 August 2012||AUD $12||USD $9||NZD $14||GBP £6||EUR €7|
"On the 200th anniversary of the printing of the Grimm Brothers’ legendary collection of dark tales, The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Australian author Valerie Volk’s twisted adaptation on the classic stories takes the ‘grim’ factor to another level.
Her third book, Even Grimmer Tales: Not for the Faint-Hearted, takes much-loved children’s fairytales like Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood, and completely flips them on their head.
And while Volk admits that some may find the new twist horrifying and shocking, in reality, her stories aren’t that much more controversial or gory as half the shows we watch on our own television screens on a nightly basis.
“Just about everybody in the western world is familiar with the Grimm fairytales,” Volk offers. “Most us were even brought up on these stories. It continues with the next generation with new movies like Red Riding Hood, Snow White and The Huntsman and some of the Disney films too. ... The original Grimm Brothers stories were actually even bloodier and more horrific than the ones that we’ve come to know over the years. When they first came out in 1812 they provoked a fair degree of horror because of some of the details they went into.”
An award-winning writer, Volk claims Even Grimmer Tales has taught her something new about her own craft after all these years."
- Nina Bertok, The Adelaide Review
"Volk is a passionate, dedicated and highly creative poet. These three recent books are a powerful testament to these qualities, and reverberate with her passion, power and poetic force.
Even Grimmer Tales is a fascinating set of twisted poetic adaptations of famous tales from the Brothers Grimm. Valerie Volk reinterprets these famous tales for a modern context, with a sardonic eye for richer, darker ironies and a witty take on each traditional story.
This is a highly polished and deliciously subversive book."
- Paul Grover, Studio
"Many fine stories have been written which began with the writer thinking: Suppose we look at the whole thing from a different angle? Each of Valerie Volk's considerations of these familiar tales begin with following up this question. The re-imagined characters and situations, then, lie in wait for us as, once, the original tales which the Grimm Brothers collected, also waylaid them...
The illustrations to the summaries of the original tales are absolutely charming, further enhancing the sense of their two worlds, the Grimms' and ours.
"Adelaide author Dr Valerie Volk released her latest book of poetry in a somewhat macabre salute to the 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ original book. In Even Grimmer Tales: Not for the Faint-Hearted, Volk takes much-loved stories and flips them on their head. In fact, the seemingly quiet former English teacher says with a grin: "It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted ... it’s triple X-rated. Our children today when they get fairytales are given a fairly expurgated version, but I guess they’ve lived in my mind for having much more potential for the dark side than maybe people realise," she explains.
But, regardless of their bloody history, it’s no wonder children enjoy them. "There are very few young children who don’t like listening to a story," Volk says. "It’s that love of story, that love of fiction, that I think fairytales pick up on so well."
"Fairytales are speaking – in an entertaining form – deep truths about people and about people’s lives and wishes and inner yearnings and less worthy desires and all sorts of things," she says.
As for Prince Charming rescuing us from a wicked witch or waking us from a sleep with a simple kiss, well . . . we can all dream, can’t we?
For fairytales, it seems, it will be happily ever after."
- Liz Walsh, The Sunday Mail (Adelaide)
"In Even Grimmer Tales, her third book, Valerie Volk takes on an original approach, “transporting and adapting certain of the classic Brothers Grimm tales into a modern context”. Not for the faint-hearted indeed, as the book’s subtitle says, but the task has been achieved with aplomb.
The funny, the dark, sly and ironic are all here, but without accompanying Grimm “ferocious deaths”. Nevertheless, this is adult reading (in case you might think of a gift for the little-uns) – but the Grimm originals were always that way.
The individual pieces are innovative and entertaining, as the jacket notes promise, with Rapunzel, The Frog King, Snow White et al jostling, but not crowding, for their new and timeless representation in the 200th anniversary year of their original 1812 publication. It’s worth a read, as I think those brothers Jacob and Wilhelm would agree."
– John Miles, indaily (Adelaide)
"Volk set out to write her own adults-only version of the tales as part of an exercise set in her poetry group. The idea was to take a fairy story – Volk opted for Red Riding Hood – and give it a fresh twist. And twist it she did.
- Deborah Bogle, The Advertiser: SA Weekend
"A sequence of funny, dark and sly monologues, each of which offers
– Peter Goldsworthy, Australian Author
"Valerie Volk joins a distinguished tradition of reinterpretation in her latest poems, Even Grimmer Tales. Subtitled Not for the Fainthearted, they take the scalpel to the fairy-stories human culture likes and needs to tell itself. Grimms’ Fairy Tales, still to this day considered amusing and edifying for children, barely conceal violence and eroticism. This is the ground Volk explores in her darkly-ironic fables for our time. Post-Freud, Jung and Bettelheim, today’s reader enjoys a much fuller range of interpretative possibility than was available to the first readers of the brothers Grimm. But as these poems so wittily suggest, interpretation is entangled in assumptions of its own: modish ‘isms’ and ideologies are complicit in constructing the ‘received’ versions of our evolving cultural narratives.
– Jennifer Gribble, Author and Academic, University of Sydney
Little Red Riding Hood
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