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xo Orpheus

xo Orpheus

Continuing my summer reading 2014, I read this collection of short stories of fifty new myths, edited by Kate Bernheimer. "If “xo” signals a goodbye, then xo Orpheus is a goodbye to an old way of mythmaking." I liked reading xo Orpheus because each author had an extremely distinct style with a creative interpretation of their chosen myth. Sometimes it was a myth I knew; like the tale of Persephone, which is retold many times. My favorite retelling of the Persephone/Demeter myth was "Lost Lake" by Emma Straub and Peter Straub, where Persephone is transformed into 14-year-old Eudora Hale who travels back and forth between her divorced parents. Other stories, the original myth was unknown and foreign to me, like the West African myth of the trickster Anansi. This story was beautifully re-imagined by Edith Pearlman in "Wait and See", which was the story of a human pentachromat (could see more than the normal spectrum) who was overwhelmed seeing too much. Pearlman was inspired by Anansi's proclamation, "blindness is a man's highest good." Bernheimer writes in the introduction to the collection that "classical myths are worldly tales, generally involving some contact between the mortal and immortal realms, between humans and the gods." What makes the collection so great to read is that even though myths are these fantastical tales, they don't necessarily have a fantastical interpretation. Some definitely do; there are many that focus on nonhuman characters, like the ogres in Aimee Bender's "Devourings." My favorites were the ones that placed the otherworldly in a real world (á la Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series) or ones that made the stories themselves realist, like making Persephone the tale of divorce and custody. There were definitely a few stories in here that I didn't like, as expected in a large collection, but on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the collection. I highly recommend this collection. Rating: ★★★★(★)

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Salvage the Bones

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