Past Use of Talking Animals
From Aesop’s Fables to Grimm’s Fairy Tales and up to the present talking animals have played a small, but vital role in literature. In modern literature, perhaps CS Lewis’s novel the Chronicles of Narnia illustrates how the use of a talking animal can heighten a manuscript. In Chronicles, one of the main characters is a talking lion, who just happens to hold dominion over a whole bunch of us human folks. George Orwell also did pretty well with Animal Farm, but as a reader I was most fascinated with the the talking animals that sometimes appear in our own North American Indian Tales. Most notable is the trickster of the Winnebagos, who has made numerous appearances in modern day literary forums such as Parabola.
So why are today’s editors so predisposed against a talking animal tale, especially considering the rich history of the motif, as well as the more recent success of such novels as Watership Downs. In my experience, I never had a submission piece come back so quickly than when I sent out a short story that involved a talking woodchuck and coyote. Not only did it come back rather quickly, but often it was often accompanied with comments how so and so editor does not even consider such a tale. In all honesty, you would be better off beginning a story with once upon a time and ending it with lived happily ever after. That would give you a better chance, unless of course you would happen to include a talking animal or two.
A Conversation Before Dinner
Recently, I just self-pubbed my short story, called A Conversation Before Dinner over at Smashwords. So far, I have received one very nice five-star, unsolicited review. Here is a link to the talking animal tale, which happens to be a free download.
Off The Map
If you want to go off the map in dealing with talking animals in literature just bring up the subject of Uncle Remus in a literary circle. Never mind that the stories were written by an Irish-American of the deep south, who just happened to be employed alongside the slave class of the plantations, for in all likelihood such a mention will place you outside the literary circle in the firm company of folklorists and anthropologists. Nonetheless, I am fascinated by the life and times of Joel Chandler Harris and hopefully I will revisit the subject in the near future.