Sunday, February 1, 2015

" Boy, Snow, Bird " - Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi

I intended to write this post sometime ago, when I first heard it on Eleanor Whachtel's, Writers and Company, but the time wasn't right. Feels like the right time now, after having read The Book of Negroes a few months back, written by Lawrence Hill, and has been recently made into ten episode mini-series, which I have been watching and really enjoying. Usually I find the book better than the movie, when books are made into movies, but this series is the exception. The mini-series made the book come alive. Both the book and series are very educational and enlightening to say the least. The factual and fictional story changed and even challenged my ideas about the meaning of racism.

Eleanor Whachtel's guest, author Helen Oyeyemi wrote her own interpretation and re-telling of the fairy tale Snow White, in her book entitled, Bird, Snow, Bird . This book also challenges one's ideas about racism, beauty, identity, and our perception about our reflection that we see in the mirror. The mirror she describes as being a either a clock or a door. This is a wonderful analogy.

Helen Oyeyemi's interest in fairy tales, and story telling is so insightful, and compelling. Story telling, like fairy tales reflect, what it means to be human, based on culture, archetype and stories, that embody the human experiences and struggles with morality.

When I was a little girl I had a birthday party when I turned 10. My mother gave me a Snow White watch, and a small figurine to match.  I loved Snow White so much, and treasured this birthday gift. I would often wish I still had the figurine of Snow White, but I broke it. I don't know why I loved Snow White so much. I think perhaps as a child, she was my ideal of the perfect woman. Wow did I ever get that wrong.

After hearing Helen Oyeyemi's interview, how could I ever again think or feel the same way about the perfect Snow White, which is a relief I must say.

"  I don't feel there's a difference between the real world and the fairy-tale world. They contain psychological truths and, I guess, projections of what the culture that tells them thinks about various things: men, women, aging, dying — the most basic aspects of being human. "

 - Helen Oyeyemi

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