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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars

It's finally out!

Yes, it is finished and available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble Books. Whew! Of course, it wasn't like I was working on this every day, but I was taking chunks of time—a spring break here, a gap in summer teaching there. Basically I took the 2013 draft, which had been proofed by Kerry Hanlon, and I added a layer of work into it, mainly in the introduction and the conclusion. And then, there was the proofreading... My goodness, how the typos just kept eluding me. Ultimately, it was Irma who beat them out of the brambles of my own sentences never to return. 

Actually, many of the edits had to do with trying to be consistent in the spelling of the names in the epics that are discussed. Different versions of books used different spellings: Lakshman verses Laksmana, for example. Then, the Tibetan names proved to be a whole different ball of wax. Every scholar was using a different system for transliterating the Tibetan names, and, well, the result was that I ended up producing a hodgepodge of everybody's different spellings. I had to choose one scholar, Geoffrey Samuel, and stick with his. I used his because his book was so expansive that he mentioned most of the key figures, thereby providing a consistent roster for just about the entire caste of Tibetan historical figures and characters. 

I wasn't sure how excited Maggie Sokolik and Dorothy Zemach would be to take this one on. I mislead Maggie by telling her that it probably wouldn't need that much editing. Ha! The struggle with the names was just beginning so the result was over three hundred changes that Maggie had to input into the proofs. I think I better let them recover for at least a year before I submit anything else. 

I was hoping to get someone to write a preface to this book. I wanted a scholar who was interested in folklore and history, and, of course, the husband of my friend, Kim Magowan, came to mind. Bryan Wagner is a professor at UC Berkeley, and he wrote a wonderful book on the history of the "Tar Baby" folktale, tracing its appearances all over the world (Africa, South American, India). While he wasn't able to write a full blown preface, he was able to skim the book and write a short bit of praise for it. I was honored that he did that. 

I have a box of about forty sitting in my classroom, and I will soon pass them out to my ninth graders. Yes, I am that teacher... the one who makes his students buy his own book. The thing is, however, that this book was derived from the material for this very class, and I think my students will actually be able to benefit from the book as a resource. So many of the stories we analyze are told orally, and some students need written versions of those stories. Anyway, that is how I am justifying this!

My next project has begun. It is going to be the third volume of the Live to Tell series. This one is about the interface between folklore and personal, true stories. So, that translates to Moth versus Aesop's fables, I guess. I am actually taking this on as a direction in my performances now. I am telling personal stories blended with folklore. I already did this in a story I tell about Loro Kidul, the Goddess of the South Seas. Well, now I am doing this with my romance with my wife, blended against the background of the tragic love story of Kang Cing Wie. I know that telling folktales is on the decline, and I feel it is because younger tellers are wary of cultural appropriation. This will be the subject of the introduction to this next book. 


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