This week I will be reviewing short story collections. Gene Wolfe's Innocents Aboard, The Decameron, the James TipTree Award collection, and a BradBury collection.
To start things off I read this collection of African folk tales collected and in some cases modified by Alexander McCall Smith. He does admit to modifying them in the introduction, but doesn't provide any details.
When I was a kid I was addicted to fairy tales; the local library had a long shelf stuffed full of collections, and I read every one multiple times. These were, though, European or Arabian tales (many belonged to the Andrew Lang color collection.
These collected tales are firmly African. McCall manages to capture the cadence of truly rural stories well enough to be reminiscent of Chinua Achebe (which, I am proud to announce, I have been pronouncing correctly).
There's a 'Just-So' feel to some of these stories, but others veer from the expected path. The girl who married a lion, for example, didn't try to turn him into a prince or defend him from her family - nope, she knew he was going to eat her up one day, so he needed to go. Very practical. Many of the stories had familiar morals; stand by your family, be good to strangers, don't betray your friends.
The feel was very cinematic. I loved the story about the bird who gave milk.
This would be a great gift for fans of McCalls Detective Agency series. If your mom loves those books, get her this for her birthday.