Penguin Books, 2013

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.
 
Aimee Bender retells the myth of the Titans.
 
Madeline Miller retells the myth of Galatea.
 
Kevin Wilson retells the myth of Phaeton, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
 
Emma Straub and Peter Straub retell the myth of Persephone.
 
Heidi Julavits retells the myth of Orpheus and Euridice.
 
Ron Currie, Jr. retells the myth of Dedalus.
 
Maile Meloy retells the myth of Demeter.
 
Zachary Mason retells the myth of Narcissus.
 
Joy Williams retells the myth of Argos, Odysseus’ dog.
 
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.



Starred Review, Booklist

xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths.

Bernheimer, Kate (Editor)

Oct 2013. Penguin, hardcover, $18. (9780143122425).

Edith Hamilton, the great classicist who made Greek mythology accessible, is officially put on notice bythis explosive anthology of reimagined myths. Demeter, a divorced mom, struggles with the half-year custody of her daughter. Narcissus, a tart-tongued partier, offers lodging to a bewitching street urchin named Echo. And a Vietnam veteran, in the spirit of Daedalus, builds an emotional labyrinth for his son.

In this searing yet ebullient collection, contemporary authors and one graphic artist move beyond merely updating classic myths of multiple cultures by performing gut-rehabs while maintaining the stark, terrifying moments of fate-altering choices. Outsized appetites figure prominently—for power, perfection, or even one’s own children, as in the case of the Lamia-like narrator of Elizabeth McCracken’s stunning story, “Birdsong from the Radio.” The form is as inventive as the content. David B.’s “The Veiled Prophet” is a vivid, graphic serial. Imad Rahman’s “The Brigadier-General Takes His Final Stand, By James Butt” presents two compelling narratives, one found in the footnotes, of a clever take on Oedipus.

Editor and award-winning author Bernheimer describes her anthology as a necessary “farewell” to the old world of myth and acknowledgement of a modern age in which humans are regarded as the new gods. But as these new myths attest, the frightening, timeless themes remain.

Carolyn Alessio