|Available now. Go. Read it!|
My teenage daughter happened to walk by as I opened the package containing this book. One look and she ripped it out of my hands, exclaiming, “OMG, this is awesome!”
“I know,” I said. “The publisher sent it to me so that I can review it.” But she wasn’t paying any attention to me. She had whipped out her phone and was sending the image of the cover to her friends and texting them about it.
We read excerpts out loud to each other and ended up laughing so hard, we were wiping tears away with our forearms.
She then took it to school to show all her friends and to share with her Latin teacher. It was a while before I saw it again.
But when I did, I confirmed my first impression–this book is a riot and a great antidote to PC versions of ancient myths. The author, Cory O’Brien, is proud of his retellings of the myths, well aware that some stick-in-the-muds will bemoan them as an example of “the death of intellectualism.”
“Myths have suffered from severe intellectualism overdose,” he explains in the introduction. “Everybody’s always studying them in school or reading watered-down versions of them to little kids, and what that means is that hardly anybody has the time to actually sit down and look at how f*cking funny these things are.”
The cover itself–with it’s middle school-like scribblings of Apollo in a Led Zepplin t-shirt and Zeus with an erm, “disturbance” in his nether regions–sets the tone. Yes, it’s totally immature but that’s what makes it so damn fabulous. Because, let’s be honest, most of us really are middle-schoolers trapped in grown-up bodies (okay, I’ll just speak for myself then).
Of course, with a subtitle of “A No-Bullsh*t Guide to World Mythology,” you know from the get-go that O’Brien doesn’t shy away from the bawdy, batsh*t craziness inherent in most myths. But here’s what I discovered–the stories are way funnier if you already know the originals. So, of course, the Greek, Egyptian and Judeo-Christian retellings often had me in stiches. But the Japanese, Hindu, Chinese and African myths? They were funny, but I found myself wishing I knew the original versions so I could compare them against O’Brien’s irreverent retellings. Which, of course, has inspired me to read the original stories. See how that works?
The young author is a grad student (MFA in writing) in Chicago and it’s clear he’s mastered the art of a unique writing “voice.” He was kind enough to answer some of my questions:
A: My blog started as sort of a joke between friends. I used to assault this one friend of
|The young turk’s twitter: @tachaberdash|
Q: When did you become obsessed with myths? What was it about them that hooked you?
Q: What’s your favorite one in general? In the book?
Q: What myth did you cut from the book because your editor/publisher said you had to even though you begged and pleaded?
Q: Where do you go from here? (career wise; will this be a series?)
Q: Have you gotten any push-back (i.e., serious name calling? death threats?) from religious groups? Scientologists?
Q: I noticed Muslim and Christian myths were not included…any particular reason[s]?
Q: What are some of the funniest/favorite responses you’ve had to different myths on your blog?
Q: What are you doing when you’re not posting/publishing?
A: I am building a pair of gloves that will allow the user to type by touching fingers to palms in different combinations. I am also writing a book of fiction, with no myths in. I am teaching a class on retelling mythology and I am sewing a jacket made entirely of pockets. I am doing too many things, mainly.
Recommendation: Get this book and read it aloud with friends. Preferably over drinks. Get it from your local independent bookstore or order it online.
Full disclosure: as stated above, the publisher sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Amalia T. Dillin says
Love this interview, and I love what he’s doing, too! I died laughing at several of his Norse myth retellings! 🙂
This book does look like a lot of fun — must add it to my ever expanding Amazon list.
Off to Japan is he? The Japanese have plenty of myths he can immerse himself into, as well as a culture with all sorts of intricacies that should keep him both busy and amused for years. Perhaps forever. After all, the Japanese have 98,000 gods of war.
I see another book in the near future.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba says
GREAT interview! I’m off to watch some of his blog posts now… 🙂 e
Vicky Alvear Shecter says
Thanks for commenting, guys.
@Narukami–98,000 gods of war???? What, one for each soldier? Geez!