By Its Cover

Judging Books by their Looks

'Dear Life' by Alice Munro

Dear Life, thanks for the scars and the marks on my knees. Thanks for a perfect first kiss, and a not-so-perfect first attempt to lose my virginity. Thanks for the affairs, and if I may ask: Why the hell did I marry Henry? He snores, and he has wrinkles. He has discolorations on his legs and arms and even you-know-where. Thanks for the countryside and the beavers. Thanks for the simple life. Sincerely, Alice Munro—your avid subscriber and chronicler of simple stories of simple people living in a simple town with simple worries.

‘Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm’ by Philip Pullman

Once upon a time Phil dreamed of two kids, a couple princesses, some witches, and a forest full of mysteries and magic. When he woke up, he called his publisher. “Fairy tales are outdated,” said Paul the Publisher, taking a sip from his Grande Soy Milk Peppermint Chai Latte. But Paul was obstinate. “Little duck, little duck, dost thou see, Hansel and Gretel are waiting for thee!” he exclaimed. Paul the Publisher shook his pouch to hear the coins that Phil had earned him. The clinking had a sufficient wavelength to push a sound of agreement up from Paul’s voicebox. Thus, Philip Pullman rewrote the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm as they were re-conceived in his dreams, paying special tribute to the archetypes of Carl Jung. A pill-popping witch awaited the siblings Hansel and Gretel, running away from their vegan mother and virtually absent investment banker father.

‘Sweet Tooth’ by Ian McEwan

It was the contrapposto that gave it away. She was being followed. Her weight supported by one leg, her mind lingering elsewhere. She had heard the footsteps approaching, and possibly her name being called by the mysterious stranger. What was her name? Sally. It had to be Sally. Sally was running away from him. He was drawn to her. Her red dress made her irresistible. He would have to come after her. She was so young and fresh but he had to pursue. Why had she worn that dress if she didn’t want him to follow? She had to hide the papers, hide her past, hide all the documents that would reveal that she had a sweet tooth for trouble. Living in the cover of the new Ian McEwan novel, she would have to desire and be desired.

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