By Philip Pullman. Viking, $28.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the original publication of the first Grimm’s Fairy Tales, best-selling British novelist Philip Pullman has taken on the daunting task of translating and updating versions of these odd and frequently epochal stories, arguably as hardwired into Western consciousness as any biblical scripture. Familiar favorites like “Little Red Riding Hood” are here, alongside lesser-known tales like the bafflingly weird “The Riddle.”
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella, and the scene in which her foot slips perfectly into the fated slipper, but her wicked stepsisters cutting off their heels and toes in an attempt to become princesses themselves is rarely part of the bedtime story. In obscure yarns like “The Cat and Mouse Set Up House”—which is about exactly that—evil triumphs completely over good, and the story ends with a shrugging existential epigram: “Well, what else did you expect? That’s just the sort of thing that happens in the world.” The noirish universe Grimm’s tales inhabit is one replete with moral and economic poverty, villainy and only occasional heroism.
Crucially, Pullman makes no attempt to modernize the stories, but instead trusts the primal essence of these narratives to provide all of the wonder, magic and revulsion that have made them inescapable totems for generations. The author deliberately renders his translations in a simple and quick-moving fashion, adding elucidating and pleasantly nondidactic commentary in the process. The main effect is to shine a light on the tales themselves, which remain the strangest, most visceral and morally complicated fables this side of Kafka.
Cowboy hats, wagon wheels and vintage American flags decorate this East Harlem honky-tonk. With a mile-long menu of every variety of barbecued meat, Harley’s Smokeshack is a carnivore’s dream come true. The St. Louis spare ribs (half rack for $18.95, full rack for $29.95), brisket ($18.95), pulled pork ($17.95) and half barbecue chicken ($17.95) all get cooked in the wood-burning Southern Pride smoker to lock in that authentic flavor. Can’t decide? Get it all in the aptly named “table breaker,” plus your choice of three large sides ($49.95). Think mac and cheese ($6.95), spicy greens ($5.95), garlic bread ($3.95) and corn on the cob ($3.95), to name just a few of the options. Then there’s the rest of the menu of classic crowd-pleasers: jalapeno poppers ($8.95), deep fried buttermilk chicken breast ($16.95), cornmeal-crusted catfish po’boy ($15.95), gumbo ($8.95) and more. Thankfully, there’s also a full beer, wine and cocktail menu to help you wash it all down.
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