Title: Stalking Beans
Author: Nancy Kress
In: Snow White, Blood Red (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Villains
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: The hay is thick and yellow in the fields of the manor house.
Was Jack really the innocent that he seemed to be? Nancy Kress provides an incredibly different take on this traditional fairy tale, one that doesn’t shed the most flattering of lights on Jack’s adventures up the beanstalk.
It wasn’t until reading this story that made me seriously question the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. After all, it’s a great little fairy tale that we’ve all grown up with. Until you really start to think about the what he actually does. He breaks into a giant’s house, steals his belongings and kills the man. Alright, in the fairy tale he is trying to eat Jack, but what if that’s all a figment of his retelling? What if he was actually just a bit of a douche?
In this retelling, Jack is an adult, and he really doesn’t make any good life decisions. Slowly, but surely, he weaves himself a web of lies and deceit that entangles and ensnares. Leaving him not only the bad guy of the story, but sad, alone and really not in any position to judge others. Yet, there is still a sense of sympathy that you feel for Jack as he becomes the villain of his own story. An ability that I’ve only been able to find in the best of writers – feeling sympathy for the fool who is the creator of his own downfall.
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