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These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales

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Overview

From the irresistibly droll mind of Jim Knipfel comes These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales, a series of twisted fables that echo with pinpoint acuity. A masterful storyteller whose memoirs and novels have earned him widespread acclaim, this is Knipfel’s first foray into the short story, and he delivers in spades: this wickedly dark satire on the notion of happily ever after turns the traditional fairy tale on its head. Among the array of lonely losers wallowing in discontent, the ...

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These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales: Stories

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Overview

From the irresistibly droll mind of Jim Knipfel comes These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales, a series of twisted fables that echo with pinpoint acuity. A masterful storyteller whose memoirs and novels have earned him widespread acclaim, this is Knipfel’s first foray into the short story, and he delivers in spades: this wickedly dark satire on the notion of happily ever after turns the traditional fairy tale on its head. Among the array of lonely losers wallowing in discontent, the enterprising reader of this volume may meet a talking chicken who learns the world has little patience for intelligence, a foul-mouthed gnome set on world domination, and a magical snowman wrestling with the horror of being alive. In These Children Who Come at You with Knives, Knipfel’s singular and brilliantly funny mind reinvents the bedtime story and offers up a wildly entertaining meditation on the perils of human nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The title of Knipfel's offbeat collection of creepy stories makes one thing immediately clear—this, thankfully, isn't a typical collection of fairy tales. While there are the standard fantastical elements—talking animals, elves, and even a princess thrown in for good measure—these twisted stories horrify the reader, provide ample shots of humor, and, of course, offer lessons: in the title story, it's intimated that a gnome should not be ignored, for he will seek revenge. “Six-Leggity Beasties” makes it clear that people should be nice to their neighbors, because they may need help when cockroaches take over their home. The talking chicken of “The Chicken Who Was Smarter Than Everyone” may think she's smarter than everyone, but she can still be tricked. Funny, sarcastic, and disturbing, Knipfel's stories will cause readers to squirm in their seats and laugh out loud at the same time. (June)
From the Publisher
"Jim Knipfel has crafted this collection of fairy tales for adults, and while the morality might be a bit grayer and the beasties a little less bucolic, he taps directly into the twisted vein of creepiness that made Grimm so grim. Only Knipfel's funny. Really funny. In These Children Who Come at You With Knives…nothing's as hilarious in Knipfel's sarcasm-soaked mind as that three-word lie ''happily ever after.'' A– —Entertainment Weekly

“Once upon a time, a literary iconoclast mocked classical fairy tales, and it was good. It’s not often a book is nimble enough to extract laughs in its first paragraph, but these twisted fairy tales from memoirist-novelist Knipfel are the exception….Douglas Adams–esque…it’s obvious that Knipfel knows the sacred ground on which he trespasses. Happily ever after, indeed.” —Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

“The title of Knipfel's offbeat collection of creepy stories makes one thing immediately clear—this, thankfully, isn't a typical collection of fairy tales….these twisted stories horrify the reader, provide ample shots of humor, and, of course, offer lessons…Funny, sarcastic, and disturbing, Knipfel's stories will cause readers to squirm in their seats and laugh out loud at the same time.” —Publishers Weekly, “Pick of the Week”

“[M]ordantly comical fairy tales. These bleak fables about the hazards of greed, vanity, and other follies are filled with eccentric loners…Knipfel fashions a wildly entertaining and wicked world where few live happily ever after, if they live at all.” —Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist

“[These Children Who Come at You With Knives] will cause you to laugh out loud, then look around to count those now staring at you, then re-read the last paragraph to see if you had read it right, then laugh some more.” —Scott Butki, Blogcritics.org

“Wonderfully filled with dark humor and fantastic in all the best ways, Jim Knipfel's These Children Who Come at You With Knives is a collection of modern-day fairy tales that hearken back to the true spirit of the Brothers Grimm.” —Large Hearted Boy

“[W]ry mash-ups of political correctness, human carnivorousness and urban legends [like] such cultural touchstones as Edward Gorey and Tim Burton.” —James Cihlar, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Knipfel is one of the few writers who are really laugh-out-loud funny. Sure, one might chuckle at Sedaris and smile at Burroughs, but Knipfel is on another level entirely….The stories in These Children are dark, funny, and memorable, and readers may be surprised to find them filling their psyches, taking the place of real fairy tales….Knipfel’s writing is so ebullient that his joyful sentences ameliorate the unhappy endings.” —Marie Mundaca, The Hipster Book Club

Kirkus Reviews
Once upon a time, a literary iconoclast mocked classical fairy tales, and it was good. It's not often a book is nimble enough to extract laughs in its first paragraph, but these twisted fairy tales from memoirist-novelist Knipfel (Unplugging Philco, 2009, etc.) are the exception. In its charming, Douglas Adams-esque preface, the author reinvents Genesis with Satan at the helm. "In the beginning was the Void," Knipfel writes. "But it wasn't long before the Void started to lose its charm. I mean, what's so great about the Void? You stare into it, it stares into you, and that's really about the extent of it. Before you know it, it's time for a snack." This opener is followed by 13 parables that jab at folklore with unconventional wit. Among wicked elves and anthropomorphic chickens, there are many standouts. "The Boy Who Came To His Senses" reverses the Cinderella story with profane pragmatism when a youngster finds that scoring a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be. "Plants Ain't No Good" rocks Little Shop of Horrors from the plant's POV. Kafka-esque nightmares re-emerge in "Six-Leggity Beasties," while the tale "Rancid, the Devil Horse," about a bank-robbing pony, is capped off with, "Indeed, it wasn't Rancid at all. It was his showboating, drama queen of a younger brother, El Ran Hubbard." Sure, the humor is intentionally juvenile in places, but it's obvious that Knipfel knows the sacred ground on which he trespasses. Happily ever after, indeed. Traditionalists, scholars and children need not apply. Everyone else ought to put down their milk before reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439154120
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.68 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Knipfel is the author of three memoirs, Slackjaw, Quitting the Nairobi Trio, and Ruining It for Everybody, and three novels, Noogie’s Time to Shine, The Buzzing, and Unplugging Philco. He lives in Brooklyn.

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Table of Contents

Preface: World Without End, Amen

The Chicken Who was Smarter Than Everyone 1

The Boy Who Came to His Senses 23

The Gnome Who Would Be King 39

Plants Ain't No Good 59

Misery & Co 79

Schotzie 101

Tubercular Bells 113

Rancid, the Devil Horse 123

Six-Leggity Beasties 133

Maggot in a Red Sombrero 155

Stench, the Crappy Snowman 177

The Toothpick 193

These Children Who Come at You with Knives 207

Acknowledgments 231

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Once Upon a Time Fairy Tales Were Just for Kids...

    ...but these fairytales and fables are for us adults, and they are wickedly funny. Starting with the preface (which if you are in the habit of skipping prefaces, do not skip this one!), Jim Knipfel's newest offering cleverly reinvents an old form for a new age and a new audience. These fairy tales still have gnomes, trolls, princesses, even a fully (if somewhat freakishly) cognizant snowman, but they are set on Earth in a time and place that looks suspiciously like our own, and may be poking fun at what's going on around here... hmmm. Anyway. These stories were fun to read regardless of what I got out of them (which was more than just laughs) because I certainly laughed a LOT! I'm looking forward to reading them again and revisiting this twisted fairy land where a horse can sling a gun in a shootout and a gnome can dream a dream beyond the garden... he can dream of world domination! (If none of this makes sense, then you'll just have to read the book! Trust me, it's funny.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Love it

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