A journalist and folklorist explores the truths that underlie the stories we imagine—and reveals the magic in the everyday.
“I’ve always felt that the term fairy tale doesn’t quite capture the essence of these stories,” writes Emily Urquhart. “I prefer the term wonder tale, which is Irish in origin, for its suggestion of awe coupled with narrative. In a way, this is most of our stories.” In this startlingly original essay collection, Urquhart reveals the truths that underlie our imaginings: what we see in our heads when we read, how the sight of a ghost can heal, how the entrance to the underworld can be glimpsed in an oil painting or a winter storm—or the onset of a loved one’s dementia. In essays on death and dying, pregnancy and prenatal genetics, psychics, chimeras, cottagers, and plague, Ordinary Wonder Tales reveals the essential truth: if you let yourself look closely, there is magic in the everyday.
Praise for Beyond the Pale
“[Urquhart] isn’t afraid to make the personal political, to delve into her particular experience while also acknowledging its limits and investigating what lies beyond them. Urquhart’s as interested in championing individuality as she is in embracing our shared humanity. But she never shies away from the fact that cherishing both can be a knotty, contradictory affair.”
—Globe & Mail
“A courageous and ambitious book. Beyond the Pale offers an intimate account about raising a daughter with albinism, a lucid portrait of related genetic, medical and social issues, and a disturbing reminder of the brutal violence that many people with albinism continue to face today.”
—Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and Blood: The Stuff of Life
“A brave, thoughtful, clear, and always graceful journey through the terrifying randomness of genetics and the unexpected ways genetic anomalies can mark not just children, but all the lives around them.”
—Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for his Disabled Son
“A graceful, perceptive rendering of a misunderstood condition.”
“Folklorist Urquhart writes poetically and movingly about her daughter … readers will weep and smile.”