Drager, Lindsey. “The Archive of Alternate Endings”, Dzanc Books , 2019.
Looking at Stories
In “The Archive of Alternate Endings”, writer Lindsey Drager follows the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with earth’s visits by Halley’s Comet. The book looks at how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold.
Drager imagines past happenings and fictionalizes historically-based stories from the lives of Johannes Gutenberg, Edmond Halley, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Ruth Coker Burke. The book is written with two themes: the story of Hansel and Gretel and homosexuality. The author brings both of them together seamlessly and in amazing ways. We see that the potential dissonance between considering a fairy tale and pondering sexual orientation is erased completely.
Visually, the book is gorgeous and filled with great historical tidbits. It jumps back and forth between characters, settings and time periods and every combination is filled with more emotion than the next. It comes in at just 168 pages, and can be read quickly but I reread it over and over because of its poignancy.
For anyone who enjoys being challenged to think or who loves beautiful writing, this is the book for you. The ideas presented here are meaningful. Drager does a wonderful job of illuminating the darker concepts and human relationships as she gives us her take on connectedness and purpose and the immensity of existence. Drager shows that our stories are related, our narratives are interlocking and we are never alone. Poetically she investigates queerness and gives us a philosophical meditation on the nature of stories.. by bringing together fairytale archetypes, astronomical phenomena and queer history.