Little Nothing

Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

Little Nothing is a story about transformation, about a girl who is a miracle, a dwarf, and a beauty, who grows up to be many other things. A cross between The Tin Drum and a fairy tale, Silver’s novel skirts the line between reality and allegory, leaving a trail of myth in its wake. The events and characters in the book fit together like a puzzle, using the fixed narrative conventions and easy coincidence of fairy tale and legend to create a story that flows from one section to the next.

The improbability and unreality of some of the events in the book may not appeal to everyone, particularly in conjunction with the more realistic elements and depiction of harsh imprisonment. However, Little Nothing is a treat for anyone who likes retellings of and new fairy tales and myths. Though lacking in the linguistic playfulness of transformation found in authors like Jeanette Winterson in favour of a more straightforward style, the novel blends the telling and enacting of stories to create a work in which fairy tales are both invented tales and reality.