A dark and fragmentary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, told across forty flash fictions.
Here the wolf and the girl switch roles over and over again, shifting from hunter to hunted, from killer to killed, and then back again, damaging both each other and the fabric of this familiar tale until there is little left to recognize.
PRAISE FOR WOLF PARTS
“The familiar characters from Little Red Riding Hood are all present in Wolf Parts–there’s a girl, a grandmother, a woodsman and a wolf, but they refuse to play their proper parts. The wolf, in particular, is at once a man, sometimes loathsome, surprisingly sympathetic. He is one and many. He is both predator and prey. What I appreciated most about Wolf Parts, in addition to the complexity that feels subtle until, by the end when it overwhelms, is the way in which Bell plays with dualities throughout the story. There are no villains and victims in Wolf Parts and there is an unexpected tenderness at times, particularly in the wolf who cannot help but be a wolf and yet, he loves.” —Roxane Gay, PANK
“I expected Wolf Parts to be good. But not as good as it actually is. It’s really good, and I don’t say that lightly… it reminded me of Robert Coover’s re-imagining of the fairytale in his novella, Stepmother. Only Bell’s story has a vibrancy, a violence, an empowerment that never got cemented in Coover’s novella. Sure, Coover’s had some moments. But “Wolf Parts” has it in spades from beginning to end." —Ryan W. Bradley, Big Other
“Bell paints Red’s alternate histories with precise brushstrokes that map viscera and chart the rocky (and sometimes paradoxically abstract) landscape of a victim’s psychology. The aptly named Red… is alternately innocent girlish victim, initially unaware of but forced to acknowledge her sexuality, and then heroine, who prepares reprisals following the unwanted lessons that have sharpened her edges to points as fine as the knife concealed in her goodie basket. Other times, as in the opening story, she attempts to empower herself by stopping the destructive cycle she is trapped in… The stories themselves are both intimate and elliptical, giving just enough information for readers to vicariously experience and also extrapolate beyond the boundaries of what’s told.” —Savannah Schroll Guz
“Told in a number of very brief fictions, the reader is introduced to Red, the Wolf, the Grandmother, the Woodsman and all the usual players, but Bell takes these familiar constructs and adds a dash of the visceral, the macabre, the erotic, and a simple elegance that would make the Brothers Grimm proud not just for following the tradition of their cautionary tales (of which many readers are only familiar with the watered down, Disneyfied versions), but for taking a step beyond what they might have ever envisioned and creating something special that stands all on its own.” —Erik Smetana
“Wolf Parts portrays human sex and sexuality for what it is: violent, primal and animalistic. And no one gets a free pass. Sure, there’s a bit of an undercurrent of female empowerment that exists here, but the women are just as culpable and despicable as the men. This isn’t necessary a bad thing, simply an honest thing, a thing that is true to the human condition. We all hunger and lust and scratch and bite—for love.” —Mel Bosworth
“My mind is full from processing images like these: predatory, daring, truthful. In these stories, the predator changes: the Wolf of course, but also the grandmother as the wolf, the woodsman as a killer, Red and other girls as wolf-slayers. We are all wolves, it seems, or we have the chance to be." —Tyler Gobble
“Here, the tales themselves are wolf parts, literal fractured fairy tales, written and rewritten and splintered and pieced back together to reflect the myriad possibilities of story. Wolf Parts is the quintessential fairy tale dissected. The characters that traditionally accompany the wolf are those he is linked to in endless, circular inevitability, an inevitability as certain as death. These are parts, episodes, and retellings, that indicate both an attempt to break the cycle and the characters’ enslavement toward it; there is the resulting failure to escape the binds of story and myth, which ironically, refuse to be broken.” —Cynthia Reeser, at Prick of the Spindle