James Finn Garner rewrote 13 classic fairy tales to replace any language that would offend the sensibilities of “Politically Correct” 1990s readers with language that will make ordinary folks laugh out loud.
Thus in Politically Correct Bedtime Stories:
- Little Red Riding Hood becomes “a young person.”
- The Emperor in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is not naked but merely “endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle.”
- The Little in Chicken Little’s name is a family name rather than a “size-based nickname,” and
- Cinderella is put on the road to romance by an individual calling himself her “fairy godperson, or individual deity proxy.”
Garner’s long-distance nod to the historic origins of the tales is marked by a decorative capital letter, drawn by Lisa Amoroso to illustrate the story, and placed as the first letter of each story in the best tradition of early manuscripts.
Despite its extremely short length—79 pages—Politically Correct Bedtime Stories is not a work to be read in one sitting. To appreciate Garner’s humor, without being overwhelmed by the silliness, it’s best to read the stories one a night for 13 nights before bedtime.
Garner’s book was a flash-in-a-pan bestseller, ideally suited to the time in which it first appeared, but almost lusterless today when people seem unable to laugh at absurdities uttered by public figures.
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories:
Modern Tales for Our Life & Times
by James Finn Garner
Viking. ©1994. 79 p.
1994 bestseller #6; my grade: B-
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni