A Clutch of Fables
There are several strange things about this book. First, the title-page puts Unicorn Press in Greensboro, but then the verso puts Unicorn in West Stockbridge, MA. Next, the date spoken of generally for this book--e.g., in the booklist facing the title-page--is 1977. It also gives a copyright date of 1977 for Schwartz' forward. Still, the verso of the title-page lists a first printing in September, 1976. In any case, this is the third printing (1979). I expected that this would be yet another book using the concept fable very loosely, and I was wrong. This is a book of fables. They are like the works of Monterroso, but developed one stage further. So they are often four pages in length rather than two. They are certainly thought-provoking. Social satire is evident in The Alley Cat and the Laws of Status (13). One of the most trenchant is Little Brown Burros (25), and one of the most provocative is The Birds: A Fable With Alternative Endings (29). Maybe the saddest is A Dried Mermaid (33). Great for its category-jump at the end is The Purple Martin And His Cook (39). My final award, for most poignant, goes to The Silver Swan (73). Savory has fun throughout with the transformation of standard speech to fit the particular animal world of an individual fable. Thus in the battle between tyrannical mutant buffaloes and drab indigenous buffaloes, a white-harness (rather than white-collar) class of drabbians grows up serving the mutants (43). Further examples include humanpox (57) and local birds who belong to a Man-Watchers Club (65). The illustrations are reminiscent of Thurber, but Antonucci shows a less definite sense of line than Thurber does. The Ants and the Grasshopper (9) builds directly on the Aesopic fable. I like Savory's work here very much.