Little Nothing

KCRW Bookworm Interview

In Marisa Silver’s Little Nothing (Blue Rider Press), an ugly young dwarf girl transforms first into a beauty, then into a tall woman, then into a wolf. We talk about metamorphosis and how the depths of the psyche intersects with the inner structure of fairy tales. Little Nothing is a novel that risks being a structure of pure imagination – Marisa Silver tells why she took the risk.

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“In the register of a folk tale, Marisa Silver’s novel recounts the life of Pavla, a much-wanted child born to Czech peasants at the turn of the 20th century. Pavla becomes a beautiful girl, but she never grows, and her parents realize she was born with dwarfism. They love their clever, striking daughter, but they worry about her condition; finally, they bring her to a doctor who says he can help. Instead, he and his hapless assistant, Danilo, traumatize young Pavla and set her spinning out alone into the world, where she’s exploited for her “freak show” condition. Danilo, however, finds himself deeply drawn to the young woman, and becomes a friend and supporter. Both young people, irreparably marked by the event that brought them together, Pavla’s doctor appointment, are forever changed. Little Nothing weaves together the historical travesties faced by women and those seen as “different” with broader themes of love and loss.”