I do love a good adult ‘fairy tale’; I think in part it is because a secret bit of me likes to believe that there is magic out there in the world. The other part of me probably likes them for the slight nostalgia of childhood that they have about them. It takes me back to those days when I was very little living in Newcastle where it was raining (though I am sure it wasn’t always raining) and my Mum and I would snuggle up and she would tell me a story. So I was rather delighted and intrigued when asked if I would like to try Andrew Kaufman’s novella ‘The Tiny Wife’, which is an adult fairy tale, nothing less.
Because ‘The Tiny Wife’ is also quite, erm, a tiny novella, at under one hundred pages, it is very difficult not to give too much away in terms of the story line. I can say that it is very much a modern fairy tale as the initial event which causes lots of bother takes place in a bank in a present day town in Canada, though we are told this event happens all over the world in all sorts of places both in the past and in the future. Hang on, I think I have digressed and gone off on a tangent…
‘The Tiny Wife’ opens in a rather dramatic style as a man with a loaded gun takes a bank hostage. This purple hatted fiend then proceeds to not take money from the bank but the items of most sentimental value to those who are there at the time. Oh and also 51% of their souls which they must either grow back, or die! It is after this event that strange things start happening to those who were there, like turning into candy, discovering your world is suddenly underwater or having your lion tattoo jump off your ankle and start to chase you down the street.
Or you could be shrinking, which is what happens to Stacey Hinterland, though it’s actually her husband (who wasn’t even in the bank and so who initially doubts all this is happening) who narrates the tale. As she hears what is happening to the other people she realises that there is good and there is bad and shrinking more and more can only mean one thing, she may soon shrink away to nothing.
Like the lovely Simon T, who reviewed this novella earlier in the week, I had never heard of its author Andrew Kaufman before. It seems, after doing some research, that his debut novel ‘All My Friends Are Superhero’s’ was something of a cult hit and I think that ‘The Tiny Wife’ could have the same status, I only hope it becomes a wider known novella because I spent a lovely hour or two with it, quite, quite spellbound. It was like I was my former five year old self once more, or once upon a time.
I sometimes think it’s much harder to build tension, comedy and tragedy into a novella yet Andrew Kaufman does all three and sometimes with characters which only last a page or three. In fact this started to become
a positive negative because the more I read the nearer the end I got, as you do, and yet I wanted more. I’m hoping that ‘The Tiny Wife’ might be the start of more of these tales from Kaufman (unless that’s what ‘All My Friends Are Superhero’s’ is) as I for one would certainly welcome a collection from him.