Shadow Talk: 25 New Fairy Tales
164 pages, 5 x 7.5” sewn paperback, 25 original illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-62054-046-6 Published 12/1/21
"Kelly offers up a guileful collection of inventive variations on familiar narrative premises. The seeming transparence of his prose can be devilishly deceptive . . . Pen and ink drawings by Emma Polyakov, suggestive and artfully composed, are perfectly in tune with the stories, which confidently inhabit a believable realm of fantasy and danger. This is impressive and delightful."--Publishers Weekly
As C. S. Lewis aptly reminds us: “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” And here they are: twenty-five new fairy tales for readers of all ages by a master fabulist and poet, accompanied by an equal number of original illustrations by a captivating artist, Emma Polyakov. These tales possess such alluring titles as “The Fox and the Other Side,” “The Priest’s Peculiar Wife,” “The Boy in the Camel,” “The Leper’s Touch,” and “The Rainbow.” They employ suitably beguiling entities as well: spectral foxes, a telepathic ape and antelope, shadows that speak, an odd djinn, a puzzled king, an umbrella-loving serpent, protean elves, and other visions of the ultimate reality just beyond sight.
"Though written only last year, these tales feel as if they have always existed, and of course they have. These are the stories that live in the backs of our minds, on the edge of the lawn, in the woods, and in that room just beyond the realm of possibility. And yet, every word Kelly writes in these modern/old fashioned fairly tales rings true. Of course the dead talk with the living and of course crows know what we want. If you have yet to allow yourself the sweet pleasure of Robert Kelly's prose, wait no longer. His masterful poetic lyricism transforms everything and everyone it touches, and in Shadow Talk we get to hang out in this newly conjured world. Kelly's voice is full of playfulness, always edging us toward some new discovery, some new lesson in wisdom or wonder that is the true role of fairy tales. The book itself is beautiful, reminiscent of an old fashioned children's book with fanciful drawings. Someone should read this to their children, and children should read this to their adults. Everyone should learn 'Shadow Talk'."
—Barbara Roether, author of This Earth You Will Come Back To
“After an inexplicable absence, how delicious to return to the fairy tale, that realm ruled by allurement, and discover a wealth of wonders: a rainbow that assures arousal, a boy who inhabits a camel, a butterfly shepherd who is also a cat! Prepare to be enchanted!”
— Rikki Ducornet, author of Brightfellow and Trafik
“Shadow Talk is full of deft, seemingly playful little fictions that quietly and covertly work their way under your skin. These twenty-five fairy tales bring Calvino’s notion of lightness to the fairy tale genre. What results is something of a reinvention of the form that only Robert Kelly could manage.”
— Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World