The Children Are Reading

Gabriel Fried. Four Way, $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-935536-94-9
Fried (Making the New Lamb Take) treads the line between childhood fantasy and the stonier realities and realizations of adulthood in this fairy tale-inspired collection. Describing a children’s theater performance, Fried writes, “Their play’s an eerie thing; it’s full of unintended truths/ that border on fact—of misconceptions that ring true.” This is the darkness that he weaves throughout his work; the great terror is not children disappearing in the woods but the dreary grown-up understandings they gradually form. Some of these revelations include disenchantment with childhood heroes, which Fried captures in dark “unpublished” excerpts of Beatrix Potter stories and by describing the staged “Meeting of Alice Liddell (Lewis Carroll’s Alice), 80, and Peter Llewelyn Davies (J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan), 35, in London, 1932.” In this way a book that might have been saccharine or banal becomes as multilayered as the finest fables, stories that are simultaneously about innocence, illusion and its loss, and the power of storytelling itself. Fried’s subtler messages are directed right to his grown-up readers’ hearts: “Who escapes/ the fetishes of childhood that others make?” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
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