The Emily Fables



Review by g emil reutter


Reading, The Emily Fables, brings to mind several of Steinbeck’s works. There is a similarity in the use of poetic prose in these fables with Steinbeck. That being said, leave no doubt that Stephanie Dickinson is not Steinbeck like, she is forging her own road in these fables of love and tragedy, of the humanity and inhumanity of man.  She uses beautiful words and images that at times leave the reader breathless. For instance, these lines from Emily and Spring Cleaning, a chore performed millions of times around the world but in Dickinson’s fable she brings us this:


In the lowest part of the attic under the eaves, I discover a painting. The walnut frame imprisons a black-haired girl seated at her piano, her downcast lashes stare sleepily at the single long-stemmed rose beside her. I stare, willing my broom handle to break the picture glass. Awaken the girl, whose gauzy green dress might be a hundred caught Luna moths. Her eyes blink, two emerald-winged insects. She inhales sweetness, the deflowered blood of the rose petals.


There is the beginning of the fable, Emily and the Frostbite: The Hermit and His Woman.


The hermit and his woman froze in the woods. There where the last pieces of sun were falling like long straws into the white trees, they washed their bodies and walked unclothed and knelt on the ground. Next to each other, but not touching. By dusk their nakedness had taken on a blue sheen, the lovers’ flesh not unhappy to be ice-hard like rocks from a forming star.


Dickinson writes of the plaque of Diphtheria in the fable Emily and the Strangling Angel.  Annie is afflicted.


They won’t let her into the sick room for fear of her catching the bull-neck. Diphtheria, the strangling angel of children, hover over the bed. Annie’s throat is closing and the bluish membrane on her tongue spreads over her tonsils and pharynx. She no longer speaks and is silent like a tree whose thrushes and wrens have fled. Her eyes try to talk, to hold back the room that is slipping away, the carved crescent moon with its thimble-size staircase that leads to a star. Dark blue eyes, blueberries picked before ripening, eyes blue as ruffs worn by medieval cardinals.


Dickinson celebrates life in The Fables of Emily, the joys and tragedy, the beauty and ugliness of it all as a master wordsmith whose lyrically intensity in each of these fables brings great satisfaction to the reader no matter the topic. These fables cover a 61 year period. Dickinson an urban writer reaches back to her rural roots to deliver The Emily Fables to us and we are better for it.



You can find the book here:


g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter


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