The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Little Man" by Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham JB by David Shankbone.jpg
This story can be found in the August 10, 2015 issue of The New Yorker Magazine

First Line: "What if you had a child?"

Last Line: "Each would be stranded, laid flat, abandoned, bereft."

What a fun twist on the dark and brooding Rumpelstiltskin!

“Little Man” is probably not great literature itself, but is a refreshing treatment of such lasting stories.  Fairy tales endure because they are beautiful, important, and they reach us – have reached us – for generations…

I was touched in the very beginning when the Little Man spoke of how the miller saw his daughter – in her beauty “his daughter may not be singular”, but neither is the gnome’s desire for a child.

The second person point-of-view brings me back to the Choose Your Own Adventure stories and third grade when I still reveled in the magic of fairy tales.  I listened to Michael Cunningham’s version on SoundCloud.  It was like a teacher reading during story-time after recess.  This may have heavily influenced my thoughts on this piece.  Cunningham has a commanding and entertaining story-telling voice.  The tale was conversant and in today’s vernacular, style, and tone

“Belief is crucial.”  Insightful psychology employed in the story adds certainty to the reader’s perspective.  Why is Rumpelstiltskin the way he is?  How did the miller’s daughter approach marriage to the murderous king?  Could such a man desire a family?  Is love/sex available to all?  Are our children merely an extension of ourselves? 

While this piece of fiction may not win awards or accolades by the dozens, it is a perfect example of masterful storytelling.  I look forward to more of Cunningham’s work.

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