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White Cat, Black Dog: Stories (2023)

por Kelly Link

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2691297,430 (4.01)10
"Finding seeds of inspiration in the Brothers Grimm, seventeenth-century French lore, and Scottish ballads, Kelly Link spins classic fairy tales into utterly original stories of seekers-characters on the hunt for love, connection, revenge, or their own sense of purpose. In "The White Cat's Divorce," an aging billionaire sends his three sons on a series of absurd goose chases to decide which will become his heir. In "The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear," a professor with a delicate health condition becomes stranded for days in an airport hotel after a conference, desperate to get home to her wife and young daughter, and in acute danger of being late for an appointment that cannot be missed. In "Skinder's Veil," a young man agrees to take over a remote house-sitting gig for a friend. But what should be a chance to focus on his long-avoided dissertation instead becomes a wildly unexpected journey, as the house seems to be a portal for otherworldly travelers-or perhaps a door into his own mysterious psyche"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 12 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
The 7 short stories are:
- The White Cat's Divorce
- Prince Hat Underground
- The White Road
- The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear
- The Game of Smash and Recovery
- The Lady and the Fox
- Skinder's Veil

These fairy tales are for adults, combining the modern world and fantasy. This is a nice, casual read.


I received a free copy and am leaving a review voluntarily.
Thank you to NetGalley and author. ( )
  Louisesk | Jan 26, 2024 |
Link's reinvented fairy tales have elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Each tale's title page includes the name of the original tale that inspired it (e.g. Skinder's Veil/Snow-White and Rose Red), though Link has completely reimagined the character, setting, and plot of each. All are utterly engrossing; a few are baffling (I want to know what "appointment" the main character of The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear had to keep!).

See also: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, My True Love Gave to Me (Link's story "The Lady and the Fox" was included), other Kelly Link story collections

Quotes

To his surprise, he was discovering that being loved could be just as productive of anxiety as the lack of it was. (The White Cat's Divorce/The White Cat, 8)

But one does not have to understand anything. It is enough to simply go on. (65, Prince Hat Underground/East of the Sun, West of the Moon)

"We all want things it would be better not to want," the cat says. "We pursue them anyway, don't we?" (68)

"I remember all of it. But it seems like a dream now." (100, The White Road/The Musicians of Bremen)

We know that they are monsters because they come at night and they tear us to pieces. But they are also monsters, I think, because we do not understand why they do what they do. (106) ( )
  JennyArch | Dec 20, 2023 |
White Cat, Black Dog: Stories, Kelly Link, author; Shaun Tan, illustrator
I found this book to be very creative and very imaginative as it married reality with magical realism and fantasy. I did not enjoy the language or some of the sexual content, but the seven stories were engaging, nevertheless.
My two favorite stories were the first, “The White Cat’s Divorce”, that gave the book part of its title and the sixth, “The Lady and the Fox”, about a young girl and what seems like an impossible love story.
In the first, a man does not want to grow old, but he can’t stop aging, although he tries everything humanly possible. In the end, will his consuming desire actually bring about his demise?
In the sixth story, Miranda falls in love with Fenny, a strange man she meets every year on Christmas, if it snows. She is determined to keep him in her life, by hook or by crook. Will she defy destiny?
Another story I enjoyed was “Prince Hat”. Gary and Prince Hat are a happy couple, but he has made a deal with Agnes and she does not want to let him go. Is eternal life worth it?
If you enjoy a bit of fantasy, with a touch of horror and science fiction, that approaches fairy tales in a new and different way, this book is for you. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Oct 8, 2023 |
*Publication Day - March 28, 2023*

My Rating: 3.4⭐

Varying in themes and tone, combining elements of fantasy and magical realism and speculative fiction, White Cat, Black Dog: Stories by Kelly Link is a collection of seven short stories that are essentially retellings of popular fairy tales and folklore in contemporary (and futuristic) settings.

My favorite story was Skinder’s Veil (4.5/5) which revolves around a young man who spends a few weeks filling in for his friend for a housesitting gig that comes with a set of interesting rules and even more interesting visitors. Atmospheric and engaging! Two other stories I enjoyed were The White Cat’s Divorce (4/5) in which three sons are sent on weird quests on the instructions of their affluent father who pits them against one another, claiming to declare the son who satisfies the terms and conditions of his quest most satisfactorily as his heir. Creative and entertaining! The Lady and the Fox (4/5) revolves around a young girl and her encounters with a ghostly presence during Christmas visits to a family friend’s home. A sweet story that retains a fairy tale quality! Prince Hat Underground (3/5) has Gary searching for his lost husband who disappears suddenly one day with a woman who was his ex-fiancée. This story was unnecessarily long and though I enjoyed how the story pans out eventually, I found my interest waning in the first half of the story. The White Road (4.5/5) follows a group of traveling performers in a post-apocalyptic future. This story was engaging and atmospheric. In The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear (2/5) a professor returning home from a lecture finds herself stranded at the airport on account of inclement weather. Though this story features sensitive issues such as mental health, the story was not engaging. The Game of Smash and Recovery (2/5) is a futuristic retelling of Hansel and Gretel featuring Oscar who cares for his younger sister Anat while his parents are away. As the narrative progresses Anat realizes her reality is not quite what she was made to believe. Unsettling, and imaginative but wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

It was nice that the author mentions the tale/ lore that inspired each story so that the reader might reference the same. A few of these original stories were not unknown to me, and while few stories rely heavily on the source material for inspiration others are barely recognizable as retellings. I truly loved the concept behind this collection and appreciate the creativity and imagination that went into crafting these retellings but overall, it was a mixed bag for me. I must mention Shaun Tan’s illustrations which perfectly captured the essence of each story.

Many thanks to author Kelly Link, Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the digital review copy of this collection of stories. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This book is due to be released on March 28, 2023. ( )
  srms.reads | Sep 4, 2023 |
One thing I like about her writing is that it keeps surprising me while also making me think Of course! These lean more into the speculative than some of her other more slipstreamy stories. I love how she takes the fairy tale as a frame/inspiration and then makes it a story, not a tale. The relationship between the son and the cat, and the harm the father does; the absolute love of Gary and Prince Hat; the nature of story and of grief in The White Road; the loss of innocence in Smash and Retrieve (possibly the story that hews closest to the theme in the original fairy tale? Or is that just because I'm familiar with it?); etc. I love how "Skinder's" takes the limbo of grad school and the ordinariness of Andy into a story about death and the bargains we make in life. How "Fox" creates a whole world and characters with depth so that the climactic scene is so powerful.

It's one of those books I love deeply and feel like was written for me and when anyone finds it less than perfect or an ordinary book or a causal read (!!) I am amazed and want to go on the attack. She makes a scene of a woman swimming in an airport hotel pool to one of transformation and transportation! She weaves the White Cat tale from something bulky into something that can fit through a ring! She takes East of the Sun with its original harsh anti-semitism trolls and makes it a story of inclusive love (though with a haunting ending)!

Beautiful and compelling and readable and entertaining and surprising and satisfying. ( )
  eas7788 | Jun 22, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 12 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Each story in White Cat, Black Dog is explicitly linked to a specific fairy tale. Link’s affinity for fairy tales is partly thematic—her work is full of such magical motifs as talking animals and bizarre quests—but also stylistic. She does not explain herself. She writes about impossible things with serene, declarative sentences that brook no argument.
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"Finding seeds of inspiration in the Brothers Grimm, seventeenth-century French lore, and Scottish ballads, Kelly Link spins classic fairy tales into utterly original stories of seekers-characters on the hunt for love, connection, revenge, or their own sense of purpose. In "The White Cat's Divorce," an aging billionaire sends his three sons on a series of absurd goose chases to decide which will become his heir. In "The Girl Who Did Not Know Fear," a professor with a delicate health condition becomes stranded for days in an airport hotel after a conference, desperate to get home to her wife and young daughter, and in acute danger of being late for an appointment that cannot be missed. In "Skinder's Veil," a young man agrees to take over a remote house-sitting gig for a friend. But what should be a chance to focus on his long-avoided dissertation instead becomes a wildly unexpected journey, as the house seems to be a portal for otherworldly travelers-or perhaps a door into his own mysterious psyche"--

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