A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstilskin

All posts tagged A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstilskin

Short Stories Challenge – A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstiltskin by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Published October 14, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

This is the story of a fairy tale character, Rumpelstiltskin with a bit of a difference – there is only half of him.

What did I think?:

I was quite excited when I read the title of the fourth story in Kevin Brockmeier’s collection. I’m a bit of a fan of fairy tale re-imaginings and was curious to discover what spin the author had put on this one. In the original fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin has a bit of a talent for spinning straw into gold. His gift comes in handy when a miller’s daughter is locked in a cell and ordered to spin straw into gold for the King of this particular land. The girl begs Rumpelstiltskin to help her and she hands over material goods like a necklace, ring etc each day until she has nothing else to give. The King then tells her that he will marry her if she will spin some more straw into gold and she pleads for the imp’s help one more time. He agrees if she will give him her first-born child. Of course, when she becomes Queen she does not want to give up her baby when Rumpelstiltskin comes to collect it and he says that he will not take the child if the Queen can guess his name within three days. The Queen does manage to guess his name after some sneaky spying and an enraged Rumpelstiltskin “in his rage drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to his waist; then in a passion he seized the left foot with both hands and tore himself in two.”

In this short story, we see a day in the life of “half” of Rumpelstiltskin due to the fact that he has torn himself in two. He seems to have some order to his life that also feels monotonous and quite sad. He is described as looking like “a banana with feet at both ends,” and gets around either by hopping or arching his body moving palm to toe. While he washes, we are treated to the full grisly detail of him squeezing the water from various organs and ligaments which are exposed (by the way did you realise that he is the only man he knows where the forearm is a hard-to-reach place?) then heads off to work for three hours as a replacement for damaged mannequins in a shop window. The sky, as in the other stories in this collection so far, plays a big part as Rumpelstiltskin gazes and ponders on it. The most fascinating part of the story for me was the letter from “the other half” of the imp where certain words are missed out but the reader can guess at what word should be in the empty space. It was such an ingenious device of the author and so well thought out that I couldn’t help but be impressed but I think you have to read it yourself to get an idea of what I’m talking about!

In the afternoon, Rumpelstiltskin gives a speech to a woman’s organisation on The Birthrights of First-Born Children “a topic in which he claims no small degree of expertise.” I absolutely loved this section of the story. Not only does the author make fun of the original fairy-tale, poor Rumpelstiltskin has to defend himself against a barrage of women getting their fairy-tales slightly muddled. No, he’s not The Big Bad Wolf. The author mixes his humour with quite a bit of sadness and by the end of the story, which was so poignant, I felt quite sorry for poor Rumpelstiltskin as he muses on life as half a person and wonders what his other half is doing. Again from Kevin Brockmeier, we have an absolutely fantastic piece of writing that is imaginative, touching and leaves you thinking about it long after the story ends. In short, I loved it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Challenge: Short Stories July to September

Published July 7, 2014 by bibliobeth

images (5)

I’ve really been enjoying my Short Stories Challenge so far, if you want to see what I’ve been reading so far, search for Short Stories Challenge on my main page and you should get a few (ahem!) entries. And here’s my batch of short stories for the next three months!

 Week beginning 7th July

The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 14th July

The Blood Pearl by Barry Maitland from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 21st July

The Isabel Fish by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 28th July

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 4th August

Cain Rose Up by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 11th August

Peep Show by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 18th August

Lights In Other Peoples Houses by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 25th August

Child of Light by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 1st September

Proving Up by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 8th September

The Boscombe Valley Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 15th September

The Agency by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 22nd September

I Am An Executioner by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 29th September

A Day In The Life Of Half Of Rumpelstiltskin by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky