I love what Maria Tatar, the Harvard professor of folklore and fairy tales, says about the latter: that they’re really misnamed. They should by right be called “Wonder Tales.” Because what they do is express our wonder at our inner landscape as humans, rather than our outer. Wonder Tales bring out to view what’s inside us all, which is (so it seems) an infinite amount of different ways of looking at ourselves and our world. But with some bedrock values that never change: the importance of partnering with Nature. The value of what appears to be worthless. The ability to change a life, or even a world, by taking action in the right way. The great reward of Love.
All those things. And all those things are filled with a sense of wonder, at wonder that we are here and living our own stories, which can be changed in ways we sometimes have yet to imagine.
There are a few Wonder Tales of this sort in the present issue. I’m not sure what I had in mind in naming it “This May Be The Last Time,” though I wasn’t imagining this would be the last issue…I had noted the many apocalyptic strains I keep seeing in stories that come to me, and pondering what that meant about how we’re seeing the world these days. Two stories in particular, by writers EAP always loves, were about this. As We Know It, by Erin Trampler Bell, is an active imagining of how our present world might dangerously come to an end through a well-meaning arrogance. Gulfs, by Tim Myers, murmurs how the story of our world would look to someone with a story from another.
Then there is One Wrong Step and You’ve Brought on the Last Days, by Ellen Morris Prewitt—the title says it all, I think.
And my favorite this month, from a new contributor to EAP, Psyche’s Sisters, by Ed Taylor. I’m always a sucker for pieces that take the old stories from a different point of view, and by doing that, point up the danger of a narrow reading of the world.
Wonder should expand, not narrow, especially in these days, don’t we think? Because, as Paul Simon so rightly sings, “These are the days of miracles and wonder/So don’t cry, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry.”
Okay then. I’ll look for more Wonder Tales in the FALL 2015: WE WONDER issue. Meanwhile, thanks to Robert Markland Smith this issue, for imagining Then Suddenly War Ended. And to Robin Suzanne for cooking up The Center of the Universe Omelet.