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All hail the power of hotel internet, which means I do not have to get behind in posting, which is a happy thing.

This is a collection of eight short stories intended for children, of which about half are adaptations of Jewish Polish folktales and the other half are made up from scratch. As with all Singer, it was originally composed in Yiddish; this one was translated and edited by Singer and a collaborator. The language is simple, direct, and colorful, but clear and lovely.

However, I like the language of the stories better than I like them for themselves. For one thing, I was already familiar with a couple of the shaggy-dog stories about the town of Chelm, which is inhabited entirely by fools. You may have heard about Chelm-- it's the town where when the village idiot accidentally dropped a piece of toast that landed butter-side-up, the village elders debated whether this revoked his status of village idiot, and then concluded that it only reinforced it, because he had buttered the wrong side of the bread. At any rate, Chelm stories are enjoyable, but after you have heard one a couple of times you have basically heard it, no matter how well it's retold, so I had that issue.

Also, a couple of these are more didactic then one might like-- the one about the man whose daughter is Poverty basically beats you about the head and shoulders with the concept that he should go and get a job already-- and a couple are sort of rambling and trail off into no particular purpose.

So the only one I really liked was the title story, which is a masterpiece of surrealist logic and provided the kind of beautiful irony that I'd been hoping for out of the entire collection. I'm not sure it's worth seeking the book out just for that one, but if you happen to stumble across this, it's definitely the one you should read.

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rushthatspeaks: (Default)
All hail the power of hotel internet, which means I do not have to get behind in posting, which is a happy thing.

This is a collection of eight short stories intended for children, of which about half are adaptations of Jewish Polish folktales and the other half are made up from scratch. As with all Singer, it was originally composed in Yiddish; this one was translated and edited by Singer and a collaborator. The language is simple, direct, and colorful, but clear and lovely.

However, I like the language of the stories better than I like them for themselves. For one thing, I was already familiar with a couple of the shaggy-dog stories about the town of Chelm, which is inhabited entirely by fools. You may have heard about Chelm-- it's the town where when the village idiot accidentally dropped a piece of toast that landed butter-side-up, the village elders debated whether this revoked his status of village idiot, and then concluded that it only reinforced it, because he had buttered the wrong side of the bread. At any rate, Chelm stories are enjoyable, but after you have heard one a couple of times you have basically heard it, no matter how well it's retold, so I had that issue.

Also, a couple of these are more didactic then one might like-- the one about the man whose daughter is Poverty basically beats you about the head and shoulders with the concept that he should go and get a job already-- and a couple are sort of rambling and trail off into no particular purpose.

So the only one I really liked was the title story, which is a masterpiece of surrealist logic and provided the kind of beautiful irony that I'd been hoping for out of the entire collection. I'm not sure it's worth seeking the book out just for that one, but if you happen to stumble across this, it's definitely the one you should read.

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