Mansfield with Monsters by Katherine Mansfield with Matt and Debbie Cowens reviewby David Larsen
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Against all expectations, <em>Mansfield with Monsters</em> proves to be grand fun.
The Cowens tweak Mansfield’s stories the absolute minimum amount required to transform them into HP Lovecraftian horrors. (It’s less than you’d think.) They bring a wicked sense of humour and a keen editorial ear to the project; I ended up reading their versions with the originals open beside me, so I could track down each individual alteration. Because you never know what the fantasy element in a given story will be, you have to treat each metaphor as a potential literal statement. The uncertainty transforms the reading experience delightfully: the girl described as a butterfl y in The Garden Party might actually have wings. She doesn’t, it transpires, but ravenous giant insects feature. Everyone is very matter of fact about them. More from the Cowens, please.
MANSFIELD WITH MONSTERS: THE UNTOLD STORIES OF A NEW ZEALAND ICON, by Katherine Mansfield with Matt and Debbie Cowens (Steam Press, $25).
David Larsen is a writer and Listener film reviewer
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