The Lion and the Aardvark: Aesop's Modern Fables
Laws, Robin D
. Stone Skin Press: Pelgrane Press . London
Aesop and others
PN982.L56 2013 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
Aesop and others
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The flyleaf declares: 70 writers from across the creative spectrum bring their modern sensibilities to this classic format. Zombies, dog-men and robot wasps mingle with cats, coyotes and cockroaches. Parables ranging from the punchy to the evocative, the wry to the disturbing, explore eternal human foibles, as displaced onto lemmings, trout, and racing cars. This book has caught me by surprise. It sat on my shelf for months. In his sharp introduction, editor Laws writes The fable activates a mirrored pair of deep-rooted desires: to be warned of dangers and to see the foolhardy punished (10). What better way, then, to take the pulse of our immediate instant, as the information age tears off its mask to reveal itself as the disruption age, than to seek out writers from diverse scenes and traditions and ask them to address the flinty classicism of the fable structure? Together their contributions convey a sense of the hazards we fear today, and the odious figures we yearn to see consigned to rightfully awful fates (11). The title-story shows up then third in the lineup. It is about the internet, and it has a moral both pungent and satisfying. To judge from the first six offerings, the writers succeed in holding to the brevity required by this form. Several do an excellent job of carrying at least one aspect of fable successfully into the very short story. The Amok works like Nathan's parable to David. Shrew & Sloth uses character perfectly. The Beaver & the Trout gets the climax we all want for the smug trout. Can't Learn New Tricks from an Old Dog offers a fable-like category shift at its end. There are occasional black-and-white illustrations, like that of the beaver and trout on 31. I cannot find their attribution. This is a lively book! The blue cloth cover features an embossed silver aardvark (front) and lion (rear).