Friday, December 16, 2016

Ki Russell's "The Wolf at the Door"

If done right, your life gets filled with different casts of characters on a pretty regular basis. I've been fortunate to have known some pretty amazing (I think) writers, entertainers, and thinkers. One of those, a writer, I met during my creative writing days at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her name was Ki Russell. While we never hung out outside of the classroom, she was always incredibly friendly and her critiques towards other student writings were always fair and never laced with subversive barbs or jabs, even if she didn't particularly like the piece in question.

She put out a book (her third) last year called "The Wolf at the Door," which I was able to read an advanced copy of before it came out through Ars Omnia Press. It is incredibly interesting in that it takes the fairy tales we all know, fractures them, then puts them back together in Picasso-like fashion. Below, you'll find a link where you can purchase the book, a review by Piers Anthony, and a summary of the book itself.

Per usual, yes, I am maybe showing a little nepotism towards former classmates by spreading news of their published works here, but I'm of the mindset that I'd like to see them ALL succeed. Anything less than that kind of thinking is petty and not worth vocalizing or printing.


"The Wolf at the Door" combines fiction and poetry to present the interrupted narrative of Lana, a contemporary revision of the Little Red Riding Hood figure. Each snippet of Lana’s story weaves her life ever more densely and intimately into the weft of a wider world of fairy tale-inspired figures, against which the protagonist’s story unfolds and through which she discovers who and what she is. Interwoven between the sections of this narrative are poems exploring other fairy tale figures, the perspective of these poems alternating between the contemporary and the timeless time of fairy tales. Baba Yaga appears in her hut in the woods and also as a Kali-figure living among us in the suburbs: devouring, monstrous, sexual, divine. She subsequently appears in the fairy tale tavern where she guides the heroine of the disrupted narrative, who works and interacts with other fairy tale figures traditionally cast as villains. Ultimately, Lana must come to recognize her own identity as both the maiden (Red Riding Hood) and the crone (grandmother) which allows her to draw power from both of these extremes of the female archetype.

Review by Piers Anthony 

I read The Wolf at the Door, by Ki Russell. This is not your usual fantasy. It is set in a pub where fairy tale characters congregate in a neutral setting. I'd have to review a number of fairy tales that I was familiar with when my daughters were children if I wanted to catch all the references, but did recognize the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, who is trying to recover the harp that Jack stole. Also Little Red Riding hood who now has a fairly familiar association with the Wolf—they sleep together, though I'm not sure there's sex—and dances at the pub. The story, of a sort, is told in snatches, some of which is blank verse. I am intrigued by a blue rose plant that can be affectionate or deadly, and clearly understands those who interact with it. Definitely not a garden variety plant. Also by an old crone who knows more than she tells, and has powers she mostly conceals. Read this for an experience in outlook, rather than for a coherent story. Adult fantasy, not as a euphemism for sex, but in the necessary maturity of perspective.
(The full review can be found HERE.)

Link for Purchase of All of Ki's Books

Ki Russell teaches writing, literature, and creative writing at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, where she resides with her husband Timothy and two children, Rook and Ashe. They share space with a cat called Draco and a dog named Dooby Dooby Doo.

She holds a Ph.D. in English literature (Creative Writing emphasis) from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an M.A. in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Medulla Publishing released her chapbook, HOW TO BECOME BABA YAGA, in 2011. Ki also has a full-length poetry collection, THE ANTLER WOMAN RESPONDS, from Paladin Contemporaries in 2014.

Ki researches fairy tales and then butchers them for her own uses. She steals time from grading to wrestle with words, converse with the cat, dance with the dog, and paint. She believes people should laugh more.


No comments:

Post a Comment