The fairy tale tradition dates back to the Bronze Age or before, per researchers and historians. Whether in the oral or the written form, the practice of retelling these ancient stories from many cultures around the world is probably just as longstanding. . . . The Merry Spinster joins this ongoing, rich lineage. Regular online readers of literary matters will know Ortberg from The Toast, where his witty and sharp takes (as *Mallory) on classic art and literature were always a treat. This collection has evolved from a particular series that ran on the site and involved recasting classic children's stories as horror stories. Ortberg also currently runs the Dear Prudence column at Slate.
As regulars here will know, since 2015, I have used this day to highlight one woman who has been inspiring to me and others. Like many other women, I also had to get past my annoyance with the Hallmark-ey and consumerist mindsets that this day has generally proliferated. What I decided, though, is that women, overall, have had to struggle a lot to get here — from voting rights to patriarchal societal rules to sexism and misogyny, and a lot more. So if we take one day a year just to celebrate how far we have come and how much further we intend to go, that's definitely worthwhile. Beware of settling for the awful social media forwards/shares that celebrate women for doing so well per patriarchal norms and expectations. These faux feminism stances do a whole lot more to harm than bolster the position of women in our cultures.
Shoba Narayan, a journalist and columnist, has a second memoir out. Here is my review of it at PopMatters. Narayan, a Columbia grad, returned to India with her family after two decades in New York City. This memoir is about how, while living in Bangalore, she bought a cow. Overall, the book is a compelling and different take on a prominent and vastly popular subject: the place of the cow in Indian culture and history. But, of course, it is so much more than that. It is also an insightful and humorous account of the reverse immigration journey and how she navigated and negotiated those endless terrains of personal identity, familial belonging, and social community to assimilate on her own terms. This is a well-researched and well-written account and uses humor at just the right moments.