I’ve been meaning for a while to say that I recently read Sarah Beth Durst‘s Into the Wild and very much enjoyed it.

Five hundred years ago, the fairy tale characters escaped from their stories to build real lives in our world; but the Wild is still out there, kept hidden and contained under the bed of Rapunzel (“Zel”)’s daughter, Julie. To Julie, the Wild is a nuisance, transforming the occasional sneakers she lets slip (or throws) under the bed into seven league boots and the like; almost as much of a nuisance as worrying that her every action might precipitate the completion of a “fairy tale event” and set the Wild free to imprison characters in stories once more.

Of course, the Wild does get free eventually. When it does, it sets to work swallowing vast chunks of Massachusetts and turning them to story; adventures ensue; and it’s up to Julie, who understands fairy tales better than most, to set things right again.

If you’ve ever secretly suspected fairy tales are evil, this book will pretty much confirm that view. 🙂

I also personally think it deserves a nomination for Best Use of the Massachusetts National Guard in a Work of Fiction, but that may just be me.


I’m currently partway through Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and finding something I want to quote here pretty much every page. Here’s one bit from today that struck something of a chord:

The belief that “real” art possesses some indefinable magic ingredient puts pressure on you to prove your work contains the same. Wrong, very wrong. Asking your work to prove anything only invites doom. Besides, if artists share any common view of magic, it is probably the fatalistic suspicion that when they’re own art turns out well, it’s a fluke–but when it turns out poorly, it’s an omen. Buying into magic leaves you feeling less capable each time another artist’s qualities are praised …

Admittedly, artmaking probably does require something special, but just what that something is has remained remarkably elusive–elusive enough to suggest it may be something particular to each artist, rather than universal to them all. (Or even, perhaps, that it’s all nothing more than the art world’s variation on The Emperor’s New Suit of Clothes.) But the important point here is not that you have–or don’t have–what other artists have, but rather that it doesn’t matter. Whatever they have is something they need to do their work–it wouldn’t help you in your work even if you had it. Their magic is theirs. You don’t lack it. You don’t need it. It has nothing to do with you. Period.

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