Review: Five Fables by Christine Cunningham

Five Fables
by Christine Cunningham

Product Description (from
Christine Cunningham is spinning a few tales, five to be exact, ranging from the whimsical to the twisted. Why read one good story when you could read five?

1. Sweetest Release: Sometimes the world conspires against you when all you need is a bathroom.

2. Tic-Tac-Toe: Can a boy protect his mother and sister from the shadow in the yard?

3. Happy Birthday: Find out why you’ll never want to sing the song Happy Birthday to your child again.

4. Story Shopping: Things go awry when an author has no story to write.

5. Tarantula: Saving your best friend from your mother isn’t easy to do.

My Thoughts

True confession: I like to read short stories in the bathroom, because you can finish them in one visit without any body parts going numb. As a kid, my favorite bathroom books were two red hardcovers (the dust-covers long since gone missing) from Reader’s Digest that were compilations of pretty much every fairy tale ever written, in the original pre-Disneyfication versions.

Christine Cunningham’s collection of short stories, Five Fables was my bathroom book for part of this month, and I enjoyed every bit of her writing. “Sweetest Release,” which is from the point of view of a dog, made me laugh loud enough to frighten my own dogs. “Tic Tac Toe” balanced cozy hominess with a taste of suspense. “Happy Birthday” was delightfully creepy. “Story Shopping” spoke to the writer part of my soul – the part that doesn’t write in cafes, but simply observes others (and sometimes uses them as improv characters), and “Tarantula” made me grin despite the title (I hate spiders).

Cunningham has a wry voice and does well with tiny plot twists and last-minute zingers. I enjoyed her work immensely. This book was one I requested as a review copy, and I was not disappointed, except in that this is only volume one.

Ms. Cunningham if you read this: MORE PLEASE

Goes well with: Quilted Northern. Or a glass of lemonade and goldfish crackers, if you’re NOT reading it in the bathroom.

Five for Friday: Magazine Rack

While I generally prefer books, especially thick novels with vivid characters, I have a special fondness for magazines. I only indulge in really girly magazines in the salon, I try to avoid things that feature ads for cigarettes or incontinence products because neither fits into my life, and I don’t have any more subscriptions (must fix that), but I do buy them at stores – they’re great for reading during lunch when I’m spending it out by the pool, because I don’t care if I forget to bring them in.

This, then, is a list of five magazines I read often.

  • Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion: Yes, it’s a little bit kitschy, but it’s artistic kitsch, and even though I have zero talent when it comes to painting and drawing, I grew up with a mother who was always making, sewing, crafting, and I have a deep appreciation for it. Besides, after looking through some of the houses featured in her pages, my house seems decidedly uncluttered.
  • Writer’s Digest: While I don’t generally use the prompts, and have considered, but never managed to actually submit an entry to, their contests, I love to read this, because it always leaves me in a writing mood. Also, I compare my writing to some of the people who do win, and feel good, because frankly? I’m better than a lot of them.
  • Discover: This is really Fuzzy’s Christmas present from my parents, but I always steal it when I think he’s done, or when I think he’s had enough time to be done, even if he isn’t. I confess, this is one of my favorite bathroom reads, because there are lots of short filler items, but I do read it all, cover to cover.
  • Real SimpleSunset doesn’t seem to have a Texas edition (their Southwest edition covers Arizona and New Mexico, I think) so I’ve switched to Real Simple since moving here, three years ago. I like the recipes and some of the organization tips, and when I’m done reading it, I leave it in the guest room for my mother to read on her annual visits. Well, when I remember.
  • Ms. I started reading this when I was about eight, and my mother would leave her copy in the bathroom, or I would check the mail and get to it first. It’s both extremely candid and extremely educational, and while I realize that feminism is no longer popular, especially among gen xers, I don’t really care. I am who I am, and my choices are my own, but we are all influenced by our parents’ beliefs, and in this, I am totally my mother’s daughter. I’m lucky to have grown up in a household of free thinkers, and constant encouragement to read, explore, experience.