Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge
Recommended by Hae Jung Kwon
Library Technician, La Mesa Branch
Winner of Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012 and Kansas City Star’s Top Books of 2012, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is a wonderfully chilling knock outside the door. It is a free verse treatment of classic and obscure fairytales for the modern retelling, hand in hand with visually sharp and deeply lined woodcut art illustrations by Transylvania-born Andrea Deszo, who currently serves as art professor at Amherst College. Twenty three archetypes or tales reappear in an imagined space with varied voices and points of view, which opens up the conversation and inner landscape for the life-long reader.
The truth Koertge carries through all the voices and personas led me to read these fairytales as archetypes from the collected unconscious. These stories allow the reader to be predator and prey, light and darkness, lost and omniscient against a classic backdrop. I leave you with a quote from the book’s illustrator, Dezso, who shared: “We didn’t have access to contemporary publications (in Communist Romania), so we read the classics. We lived in books. Traveled through them.”