Pro: Myths presented like you were being told a crazy story in a bar.
Con: Only if you can’t handle crude humor
The Bottom Line: It’s absolutely hilarious. We had three copies in the store; they sold in about a week.
This book was brought to my attention by one of my co-workers. He deserves a medal for doing so, I might add. Though the book features Zeus’s name, it actually includes myths of all belief systems. Greek, Christian, Native American, Hindu – basically anything that the author, Cory O’Brien, decided would make for a hilarious story. And the truth is that most mythological stories are pretty ridiculous to begin with. When you hear them in their normal state, as just a regular story, you don’t really think much of it. It’s a myth story, no big deal. Never mind that the Norse god Loki had sex with a horse and gave birth (yes, Loki gave birth) to the eight-legged horse Slepnir.
But then you take time enough to step back and look at a lot of these myths and you can start to reflect on just how freaking weird they are and how they have no reason for existing – they don’t explain why the sun rises or what makes it rain. Never mind that Athena just jumped out of Zeus’s head one day – in full armor no less (and there’s an even weirder version of that story, by the way).
But I digress. The hilarity in this book lies in the way it’s written. It’s almost jotted down in prose poetry style, which is actually amusingly fitting considering the style of so many old myths, so it may have been intentional. Either way, O’Brien writes them in a way that you might hear these stories in a bar – very casually, very crudely, with a bit of elaboration, but the base of the myth is still very correct. He uses all caps in a few places for some really brash emphasis, and it works very well. After reading a few stories and laughing until I was on the brink of tears, I finally had to put it down and not read any more of it because A.) I was at work and B.) customers were starting to look at me funny.
You don’t have to know the myths beforehand in order to enjoy this – I read a Norse one I wasn’t familiar with and it was still absolutely hilarious. Knowing some myths, however, almost makes them funnier because O’Brien makes sure to point out the ridiculous bits like how God cursed the serpent to crawl on its belly forever for it’s part in the whole Adam-Eve-fruit fiasco – never mind the fact that serpents crawl like that anyway.
There is swearing and crude remarks (although many of the old myths were pretty crude – lotsa sex, mind you), so brace yourself. But if you don’t mind that and want a good laugh, I highly recommend at least taking a look at this. Read a story or two and see if you aren’t thinking of buying it.
Mind you – if you do, you will never think of Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus the same way again.
Notes from the playlist: "Skyfall" by Adele