Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October and the Folktale

Towards evening, Sister Ruth thumbed through the birth announcements section of a pawed-over newspaper.  Sometimes she licked her fingers and moved them as if to turn the page, but her hand hoverd in mid-air.  Lola saw her cast her eyes like a pair of black die.

"Hey, Sister," she said, "what's caught your up now?"

Sister's eyes slid to her.  She put a pudgy finger to her mouth.  "Sssshhh."

Lola summoned  a stage sigh.  But she fingered for the button that would call the nurses, just in case.

When the ashy-haired nurse rolled in the trolley with their evening meds and her "lights out," Sister bent forward.

"I know what they're here for.  I know what they want."

This one has been recently submitted for the Tuscany Prize, and while it's not, under any concievable definition, a fairy tale, I do believe the supernatural firmly stakes its claim in it.

October is a month of conjuring, superstitions, spooks, and the primordial sense that there-is-more-than-this.  Ray Bradbury is right to give October its own country.  I want to say more, but it must wait for another day.

So I leave you with insights from Sofia Samatar to mull over:

. . . it seems to me that if you set out to look for the ancestors of weird fiction, you'd wind up at the folktale.  Folktales are very weird.  They use strong, unexpected imagery, and mix the mundane with the magical: the witch gives you a comb, and it turns into a forest.  Folktales are extremely short on explanations.  They often drop you abruptly at the end, with some obscure formula like "there's bread and cheese upon the shelf."  They are also peasant stories, as opposed to the epic, which belongs to kings.  They're a little bit subversive, and quite often grotesque.  I think they may have given us the weird tale.  (I'm also pretty sure they gave us horror.)



  1. "Ray Bradbury is right to give October its own country." That is AWESOME. I don't know what story you're referencing, and now I'm all curious.

    Your writing prompt image is beautiful again. I totally dream of doing these.

    1. I know, right? It's a collection of stories.

      He also wrote The Halloween Tree. The way he writes about Halloween and autumn hints at the heart of why they are both such special times to me.

  2. Don't know if you've read Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair"? A very October story, and dedicated to Ray Bradbury. :)

    1. No, but it does sound like something that could win me over immediately! Thank you for the suggestion.


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