Wolf's life in the wood might be happy, except for one problem. He can't control his urge to devour children who stumble across his path. His runaway desires have made him an outcast among his peers. He lives an unhappy, solitary life — until he encounters the Brothers Grimm.
Wolf is thrilled to realize that in the presence of these scholars, he can speak. The Grimms take Wolf into their camp, fill him with brandy, and poke at the source of his unhappiness. When they learn the truth about Wolf's cravings, they propose a cure.
Now Wolf must make a decision. Can the satisfaction of a "normal" life outweigh the joys of his perversion? Are his desires truly deranged, or is he simply giving full expression to his nature? Does he have an obligation — as his occasional companion Devil argues — to live as a unique individual in the manner to which he was born?
Originally published by Ecco/HarperCollins, Darkest Desire was called "brisk and sly" by Publishers Weekly; "a mordantly witty, slyly intelligent take on the Brothers Grimm and their folktales" by Kirkus Reviews; and "a tour-de-force of first-person narration" by the Minneapolis StarTribune. "People who believe that 'ethical journalist' is an oxymoron will love Anthony Schmitz's prickly novella," said the New York Times Book Review.
In the clever conceit of Schmitz's (Lost Souls) novella, an articulate wolf with a passion for eating children is approached by the Brothers Grimm, who claim they want to help cure him of his desire, but, in fact, use him for their own literary inspiration. While the Brothers conduct their ostensible therapy, another figure, a changeling whom the nameless wolf calls Devil, argues that by eating children the wolf is only being true to his nature. Eventually, the Brothers lure the wolf to attack a house where children have been left alone. Schmitz's postmodern rewriting of familiar folk tales explores ideas of forbidden desire and of the manipulative relationship storytellers often have with their subjects. The narrative's brevity is a little thin rather than dense, like an observant short story stretched to book length. Schmitz is clearly an adroit storyteller, nevertheless, and his wolf emerges as a sympathetic narrator, his tale brisk and sly, if unsurprising.