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The Monkey's Wedding: and Other Stories…
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The Monkey's Wedding: and Other Stories (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Joan Aiken, Lizza Aiken (Introduction)

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983181,550 (3.71)4
Member:moomin
Title:The Monkey's Wedding: and Other Stories
Authors:Joan Aiken
Other authors:Lizza Aiken (Introduction)
Info:Small Beer Press (2011), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:fiction, duplicate

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The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories by Joan Aiken (2011)

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Showing 3 of 3
I think the best way I can describe this collection is if P.G. Wodehouse and Kelly Link wrote short stories together. It's surprisingly entertaining, they're whippy, fun things, even the creepy ones (which are salted through the comical romances as a very fine seasoning). The language is just as utterly delightful. Favorite stories include "Model Wife," "Hair," "Octopi in the Sky," "The Magnesia Tree," and "The Water of Youth." ( )
  jen.e.moore | Dec 16, 2016 |
It took me a while to get into Aiken's style, but once I did, I saw she is a consummate storyteller. Great observations, too.

I think one of the reasons it took me so long to get into her writing is that she's not particularly close with her 3rd person narrative. It's not always omniscient, but it's pretty close. My favorite is 3rd person closed (or whatever it's called), where the writer is knocking around in the main character's head.

Aiken doesn't do that much here, but still her writing is, by turns, fun and horrifying. ( )
  stacy_chambers | Aug 22, 2013 |
In the introduction to this posthumous collection of short stories Joan Aiken describes the three ingredients that have gone into the making of these tales: fantasy elements ("witches, dragons, castles..."), realistic elements culled from everyday life ("mending punctures, winning raffles...") and, finally, dreams ("an old lady hunting for lost things..."). Unlike her longer novels, the tales aren't planned but spring from a chance combination of two or more of these ingredients; in The Monkey's Wedding you can marvel at how these elements appear and re-appear in limitless permutations, always surprising, always entertaining, and always haunting.

This score of contributions (including the introduction) reminds me of how much I enjoyed reading her short stories whenever they appeared in paperback. Though written in a variety of tones (there are ghost tales, horror stories, travellers' accounts, tales of requited and unrequited love) they retain the very best features displayed by all those successful purveyors of anecdotes that we might have encountered: the mesmerising raconteur in the pub, the illuminating extempore speaker at a conference, the entertaining travelling companion, all following in the tradition of the tellers of Kinder- und Hausmarchen. Like many a tall story, there is enough familiar stuff mixed in with the fanciful to make you almost believe it is true, or mostly true, or very likely, or deserving to be true.

And we mustn't forget Joan's writing skills. For instance, the descriptions and instances of reported speech read so easily that one is never aware of the care that must have gone into their crafting. Opening a page at random ("Spur of the Moment") I find that she rings the changes on the manner of character utterances (called, asked, panted, gasped as well as said), but when I first read it I wasn't aware of her consciously creating any variety, just the rhythm of the narration which pushed me on to the dénouement ("Perhaps we'd both better begin at the very beginning," she suggested).

All the stories have their strengths, their images, their echoes, but a few will linger a lot longer in my mind: "Reading in Bed" for its atmospheric recreation of an Eastern European folktale; "The Paper Queen", one of at least two stories which must surely pay tribute to her native town of Rye in Sussex (Rohun or Rune in this tale, Ryme elsewhere); and the bittersweet story that gives its name to the collection, "The Monkey's Wedding" (which, strangely, involves neither a monkey nor a wedding). The settings also vary widely like a chocolate box selection, ranging from Wales and Ireland to France and Poland via the middle of the ocean, all given a coating of the whimsy or a suggestion of a shiver.

Aiken aficionados must be grateful to Small Beer Press for publishing this story collection, many unpublished before now or virtually unobtainable because they first appeared in the 1950s. Although the tales are quintessentially British the publishers, apart from the occasional spelling change ("favorite" for "favourite", "labor" for "labour"), seem to have respected the texts by making no obvious adaptation for a North American audience. Lizza Aiken's introduction, "The Making of a Storyteller", nicely complements Joan's with some biographical details, her modus operandi as a writer and her meticulous attention to detail. This is a volume to keep, to re-read and to pass on to discerning young relatives.

http://calmgrove.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/wedding/ ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Dec 1, 2012 |
Showing 3 of 3
Each story has a surprise or twist. Many are ironic, go-figure pieces. They are just like real life, only more so. VERDICT: This book will appeal to readers of short stories and literary fiction. Highly recommended.
added by cmwilson101 | editLibrary Journal
 
Aiken's pastoral meadows and circus chaos, gothic grotesques and quirky romances... have a dream-like quality executed with a brevity and wit that is a testament to her skill as a story-teller.
added by cmwilson101 | editCalifornia Literary Review
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joan Aikenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aiken, LizzaIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Joan Aiken's stories captivated readers for fifty years. They're funny, smart, gentle, and occasionally very, very scary. The stories in The Monkey's Wedding are collected here for the very first time and include six never before published, as well as two previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee. Here you'll find the story of a village for sale . . . or is the village itself the story? There's an English vicar who declares on his deathbed that he might have lived an entirely different life. After his death, a large, black, argumentative cat makes an appearance. . . .
This hugely imaginative collection of incongruous, light, and unexpected stories features Shelley Jackson's spooky and eyecatching cover painting inspired by the story "A Mermaid Too Many" and includes introductions by Joan Aiken as well by her daughter, Lizza Aiken.

Praise for Joan Aiken:
"Joan Aiken's invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come."--Philip Pullman

"Aiken writes with the genius of a born storyteller, with mother wit expanded and embellished by civilized learning, and with the brilliance of an avenging angel."--The New Yorker

Best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken (1924-2004) wrote over a hundred books and won the Guardian and Edgar Allan Poe awards. After her first husband's death, she supported her family by copyediting at Argosy magazine and an advertising agency before turning to fiction. She went on to write for Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, Argosy, Women's Own, and many others. Visit her online at: joanaiken.com.
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Joan Aiken's stories captivated readers for fifty years. They're funny, smart, gentle, and occasionally very, very scary. The stories in The Monkey's Wedding are collected here for the very first time and include six never before published, as well as two previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee. Here you'll find the story of a village for sale . . . or is the village itself the story? There's an English vicar who declares on his deathbed that he might have lived an entirely different life. After his death, a large, black, argumentative cat makes an appearance. . . . This hugely imaginative collection includes introductions by Aiken as well as by her daughter, Lizza Aiken.… (more)

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Small Beer Press

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