Los Angeles Times

Mallory Ortberg on the remixed fairy tales of her new book 'The Merry Spinster'

Call Cinderella Paul.

Mallory Ortberg, co-founder of the dearly departed feminist website The Toast, Slate's "Dear Prudence," and the author of "Children's Stories Made Horrific" and "Texts from Jane Eyre," turns beloved fairy tales on their heads in the new short story collection: "The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror."

In "The Merry Spinster," Ortberg remixes "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and more well-known sources into stories both weirder and yet somehow more familiar. Beauty's mother, for example, is a high-powered executive with investment woes, and as the Little Mermaid discovers upon becoming a girl, there are many disadvantages to being human, including "one-way joints (and) a sudden and profound sense of isolation." Ortberg's tales are all the more enchanting - and humorous, and haunting - for falling so close to home.

Certain themes reappear throughout the collection, including explorations of gender. In "The Thankless Child," Cinderella

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