Old Friends


I’m having a big week indulging in fairy tales. I’m not getting a lot of writing done but I’m having a great time trying to think up justifications for why I need to re-read yet another old collection of fairy tales. I could pretend it’s because Jack Zipes is coming to Melbourne this week to speak about his work at the CBCA Conference on Friday. But I suspect it’s just nostalgia.
On the right is a picture of my most loved, though sadly degraded copy of The Complete Grimm’s. Thirty years ago, when I lived in Southern California, Rick, a beautiful, golden-skinned young hippy, gave it to me in exchange for my copy of Eugene O’Neill’s play ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night‘.

Rick and I both lived in a very alternative indoor-outdoor share-house owned by a man called Sundancer. It was lit with fairy lights and had ‘roll-up’ plastic walls. One night, we sat up late in the flickery darkness and I told him some of my favourite fairy-tales. Amazingly, Rick, who was from Tennesee, had never heard a fairy tale in his life. A week later, he turned up with this giant copy of Grimm’s that he’d shoplifted from a bookshop in San Diego. Maybe it was his guilty conscious or maybe he was daunted by the sheer weight of the book, but it was his idea to exchange my O’Neill for his Grimm’s. I definitely got the better deal.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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