Like a postmodern Aesop, Jakob Arjouni wittily punctures pretension and self-deception. These tales are characterized by ironic humor with an underlying note of melancholy.
Among the delightful idiots collected here, the author offers a domineering mother whose rock star son fails to appreciate her efforts on his behalf; a hopeful young movie director with a bad case of writer's block; and an aging author of pulp fiction trying to write one good, serious book before he dies. They are all visited by a fairy who offers to grant one wish, with the exceptions of immortality, health, money, and love. Their wishes, once granted, have stinging consequences—the resolutions of which read like an updated version of the Brothers Grimm. A would-be novelist, whose marriage is on the rocks, longs for excitement and soon finds himself taken hostage by a girl bank robber; and a mysterious old man who comes to a village to end his days in peace winds up the close acquaintance of the local drunk.