“The Grammar of Happiness: An Interview with Kate Bernheimer”

Cate Fricke, whose utterly fantastic story “The Nursemaid” I had the pleasure of illustrating for Lightning Cake, has posted her interview with Kate Bernheimer at the 2013 AWP Conference on her blog. You can read the interview here: “The Grammar of Happiness: An Interview with Kate Bernheimer.”

It’s a terrific conversation, and reading it excited me. Some of the gems in the interview include a word from Kelly Link, writing for children, writing from childhood, and myths—this last being the subject of the new anthology Kate is editing: xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths.

Excerpt from the interview to whet your appetite:

KB: There are fairy tales that are part of children’s literature, but not all fairy tales are part of children’s literature, depending on how the boundaries of “children’s literature” are being defined, which is not a constant. Too, when it comes to definitions of fairy tales, there are as many definitions as there are desires to have definitions. I don’t think that there is any one definition that has ever really functioned perfectly in any universal way, historically speaking, and that is part of what makes fairy tales so mysterious, engaging, and enduring, for sure. They are a trickster art form. Just as you try to contain the fairy tale, it eludes you, like fairy, right? It’s the fairy way to do that. If there is an operating definition for me, it’s bound up in their evasion of definition as a fixed thing – fairy tales are a becoming, I’ve written. And in my writing I speak of “Fairy tale” as a language, identified in the “fairy way of reading.” For me, it’s less “what is a fairy tale,” that is, how do you identify a fairy tale through a definition, than how does a reader or viewer or author or artist experience a fairy tale as a kind of affect, as a way of becoming in the story. And so you recognize a fairy tale through its techniques, and through its effect on you.