Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Red Fairy Book

While I was writing INTO THE WILD, I did a LOT of research on fairy tales -- everything from the obvious (Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella... sidenote: do you have any idea how many versions of Cinderella there are?!?) to the obscure (e.g. the one with the poodle who eats burning coals, the one with the talking dead horse head...). Pretty much decimated that section of the library, which made me feel guilty because what if some kid wanted a fairy tale for a bedtime story? So that Christmas/Chanukah, to assuage my guilt, A gave me a fabulous present. It came in a non-book-shaped box (always a bad sign) so I steeled myself to feign enthusiasm. But when I opened it, what did I see?

Eleven books. 11!

A beautiful rainbow of books: the Lilac Fairy Book, the Violet Fairy Book, the Blue Fairy Book, the Olive Fairy Book, the Green Fairy Book, the Yellow Fairy Book, the Orange Fairy Book, the Pink Fairy Book, the Crimson Fairy Book, the Brown Fairy Book, and the Grey Fairy Book.

My magnificent and wonderful husband had gone to Amazon.com and bought every single Andrew Lang fairy tale book except for the Red Fairy Book, which I already owned.

And Amazon.com can't handle the fact that he bought every one except the Red Fairy Book. Each time he logs on, the poor recommendations software practically begs him: "Please, you must want this book! Every bit of my software says that you will want this book! It's recommended for YOU! Why, oh, why do you torture me? Please, for the love of UPS, buy the Red Fairy Book!" And A, who knows perfectly well that I already own an older edition of the Red Fairy Book, simply clicks past the poor, sniveling recommendations feature.

Someday I expect him to go to Amazon and find the recommendations feature huddled in the corner of the screen in fetal position sucking its digital thumb and rocking back and forth repeating: "Red Fairy Book... Red Fairy Book... Recommended for you..." -- the first and hopefully only casualty of INTO THE WILD.


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