Review: xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths edited by Kate Bernheimer

Title: xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths
Editor: Kate Bernheimer
Publisher: Penguin Books
Released: September 24, 2013
Source: publisher (NetGalley)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Fifty leading writers retell myths from around the world in this dazzling follow-up to the bestselling My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.

Icarus flies once more. Aztec jaguar gods again stalk the earth. An American soldier designs a new kind of Trojan horse—his cremains in a bullet. Here, in beguiling guise, are your favorite mythological figures alongside characters from Indian, Punjabi, Inuit, and other traditions.

If “xo” signals a goodbye, then xo Orpheus is a goodbye to an old way of mythmaking. Featuring talkative goats, a cat lady, a bird woman, a beer-drinking ogre, a squid who falls in love with the sun, and a girl who gives birth to cubs, here are extravagantly imagined, bracingly contemporary stories, heralding a new beginning for one of the world’s oldest literary traditions.

What a varied mix of stories, an eclectic reader’s dream come true! From down-to-earth retellings of ancient myths to the truly bizarre, there is something for everyone in this collection. One is even in graphic novel format!

For the first half of the book, I couldn’t wait to find out what experience each story held. Each story encourages the reader to read the next, and I was devouring them. However, this is a fairly hefty anthology – about 576 pages. For the second half, I found myself needing to set the book aside after a few stories, read something completely different, and then come back to it. Not out of boredom or anything like that, but more out of wanting to keep the reading fresh. As varied as these stories are, they do have the common theme of mythology, which, in its own way, can be a very specific kind of tale.

I absolutely loved the brief commentary each writer gives at the end of their work, giving insight into his or her source of inspiration, train of thought, etc. It was like having program notes for each piece. Truly fascinating.

I didn’t realize there was a previous collection, so I’m going to be sure to grab a copy of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. Readers who enjoy magical realism in their fiction (to varying degrees) will not want to miss out on xo Orpheus.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.