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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, radioactivity, chimeras, cottagers, and plague, Ordinary Wonder Tales reveals the essential truth: if you let yourself look closely, there is magic in the everyday.
Emily Urquhart is a journalist with a doctorate in folklore. Her award-winning work has appeared in Longreads, Guernica, and The Walrus and elsewhere, and her first book was shortlisted for the Kobo First Book Prize and the BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction. Her most recent book, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, my Father and Me, was listed as a top book of 2020 by CBC, NOW Magazine and Quill & Quire. She is a nonfiction editor for The New Quarterly and lives in Kitchener, Ontario.