Reading List: Tricksters

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Painting by Jan Matejko Stańczyk.

The trickster is an archetype that appeared in the myths of many different cultures and is still popular with writers today. These characters are rule-breakers and agents of chaos; they are often animals (e.g. foxes, crows, coyotes), travellers, or even shapeshifters able to cross boundaries between worlds. For this reason they sometimes function as a guide or messenger, like the Greek god Hermes. Characteristically, the trickster is clever and creative. They generally lie to obtain sex, food, or just to get out of something they don’t want to do, using their wit to outsmart of the Man/the Establishment/the gods/what have you.

Since they are so unpredictable and paradoxical, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the perfect definition of a trickster is. As Lewis Hyde puts it in Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art:

[The] best way to describe trickster is to say simply that the boundary is where he will be found – sometimes drawing the line, sometimes crossing it, sometimes crossing it, sometimes erasing or moving it, but always there, the god of the threshold in all its forms.

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Book Review: “Grief Is The Thing With Feathers” by Max Porter

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Artwork by Kelly Blevins.

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“Grief is the thing with feathers,” eh? I see what you did there.

Read me, he said.

Just because the title grabbed me? I don’t think so. Have you seen my list of books to read? Who wrote you?

Max Porter.

I’ve never heard that name before.

I’m his first book.

Crow is an immaculate conception, a virgin birth (not that Max Porter is a virgin, although he might be, you never know).

I’ve never heard of you and I have no idea what you are. I bought three books this week that I want to read – forget it.

Rat-a-tat-tat.

I can’t. I am crushed by the weight of all the books I haven’t read. Go away.

Rat-a-tat-tat. Knock. Knock.

No.

But I’m really short. Look at me. You could finish me this afternoon if you wanted to.

Stop.

Rat-a-tat-tat. BANG. BANG.

FINE. (I throw my twenty-euro bill on the counter like it has personally offended me.)

No need for that kind of violence.

Shut up.

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