Kate Bernheimer is the contemporary master of the fairy tale. We are thrilled to feature this dark October story from her. This tale, an imitation of “The Hare’s Bride,” sent a shiver up our spines. Scroll through if you dare.
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About the Story:
“The Punk’s Bride” is an imitation—to borrow Angela Carter’s phrase—of “The Hare’s Bride” by the Brothers Grimm. (Angela Carter was adamant that she did not do retellings, she did imitations.) In the 19th century German version, which is possibly one of the saddest and tiniest stories I ever have read, a girl is wooed by and marries a rabbit. Nothing in the story goes well. “The Hare’s Bride” is a perfect and terrible story, and perhaps tellingly also one of my favorites. You ask about my writing process: I always start with the title and “The Punk’s Bride” came to mind because I have recently watched, quite a few more times than I care to admit, a short documentary about David Bowie in the 1970s. I’ve been thinking about the music movements of my childhood years and the impact music has had on my life. The rest of the story came about by channeling the old fairy tale through some screwed-up ideas and images that come to my mind.
You know, around the time of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie said something along the lines of he wasn’t a rock and roller, he was an artist and rock and roll was his medium. I’ve been called a “fairy-tale author, editor, and professor” and even “expert,” but in all of my work, I’m just an artist and fairy tales are my medium. Fiction is my way of doing punk rock: I can’t sing so I do fairy tales—generally weird, sad, and violent ones. I love fairy tales and I love punk music, so I feel sorry that the musicians in this story come out looking bad, but the truth is no one comes out looking so great. I tried to write a nicer story than usual, but as this was written especially for The Masters Review Scary Stories month I guess it’s for the best that I couldn’t!
Kate Bernheimer is the author of a novel trilogy and the story collections Horse, Flower, Bird and How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales, and the editor of four anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award winning and bestselling My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the current World Fantasy Award nominee xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths. Her books have been translated into Chinese, French, Greek, Korean, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and other editions. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she teaches fairy tales and creative writing.