Title: Labyrinth Author: Ron Currie, Jr. In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Mythology, Rambling Dates read: 18th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: It’s not as though Americans invented this type of justification for murder, of course.
Once there was a boy whose father built a labyrinth.
This is a different story from the one you know. This father didn’t build the labyrinth to imprison a half-man, half-bovine monster. He didn’t build it to appease a king. No one’s going to fashion wings out of feathers and wax, and no one will plummet into the ocean to demonstrate the price of hubris.
I spent a lot of time reading this short story, trying to figure out how, in fact, it WAS a story. And then I got to that last page which said this was a non-story and I felt far less stupid and lame.
The labyrinth is something that I’ve always imagined as being rambling and nonsensical. Impossible to define or hold onto. Kind of like memories… and for me, this whole story was a metaphor for that illusivity.
This was disgustingly enjoyable and fun. It was really hard to keep track of and follow, but that’s what I loved so much about it.
Title: Devourings Author: Aimee Bender In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Mythology Dates read: 15th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: Same with the worms.
The ogre’s wife was a good woman. She was not an ogre, but she was ugly, by human standards, and she had married the ogre because he was strong and productive, and together they had made six small ogre children. The children all took after their father.
I’ve read the story of the human tricking the ogre into eating his own children a few times. I’d never thought if what it was like for the mother of those children though. Or even what the father felt after he did such a terrible thing…
The way this story turned those ideas and fairy tales on their head was brilliant. There’s also a cake that replenishes itself and a cloak that hides you in plain sight. The woman in this feels… in pain after her children are eaten, but still very much in love with her husband. It gives a whole heap more humanity to the “bad guys” of the original fairy tale.
Going in a pilgrimage of sorts to heal after losing your children is completely understandable. I love how this mother and woman just… takes it in stride and lives and experiences things to let herself heal. There is no hatred and horror, just a way of moving towards a new future.
Title: Modern Coyote Author: Shane Jones In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!), My Bookshelves:Horror, Mythology Dates read: 10th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: His ears were more prominent and they too had gray hair.
After the doctor gave them the choice, they took their baby home. “He’s here,” said Ben, into the phone. “They let us leave.”
This was one of those jumpy stories that doesn’t quite feel complete. And thus is fat more horrifying. Its uncomfortable and confusing, with so many things left unsaid. Which honestly just added to the appeal.
I think this story felt more horrifying and uncomfortable to me because there was a new born baby in it. And the whole expecting thing made that so much realistic… and triggering.
I actually liked this. It didn’t feel hugely like a coyote story to me, but it was brilliant. And horrifying. And twisty.
Title: Henry and Booboo Author: Elanor Dymott In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Mythology Dates read: 5th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: She did up the last of her buttons and she dropped to the floor and put her head down to tie her laces and still he thought it would be all right and she’d turn and walk away, but then suddenly he couldn’t hold his breath anymore and it came out in a kind of a grunt, and she flicked her head back and saw him.
It would be eight years before he told her he’d killed them. Or at least, before he told her he held himself responsible for their deaths, which at the time were put down to natural causes: dehydration, the heat of the sun, overexertion.
This was both kind of brilliant and super disturbing… I enjoyed the reading of it. But there comes a certain point when you feel…. seriously uncomfortable about what’s happening in the story line.
What I found most difficult about this story was the open ended nature of the tale. The fact that the bad guy really didn’t get his comeuppance (which I like). But there is definitely a hint of it…
The little bit at the end about the original story and how these themes were intertwined. But it was completely brilliant. Just not for the faint of heart.
Title: The Veiled Prophet Author: David B. In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Graphic novels, Mythology Dates read: 30th June 2021 Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: It was said that Simorgh the bird strode at the head of this veiled man’s perennially victorious army.
A nice, short comic retelling of the Prophet of the Veil. This was dark, complex and fun.
This would have been a creepy and disturbing story in prose. The fact that it was illustrated just helped to drive that home. It was just… unsettling. Particularly by the end of the story.
This story made me think about all of the things and “falsities” that we trap ourselves with. It makes me seriously question the different things in life that tie and trap us.
This was dark and fun. A story that I would read again. It was surprising, and I found it a great little journey down the well hole… pun intended.
Title: Friend Robin Author: Maile Chapman In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Fae, Mythology Dates read: 16th April 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: We’d seen it before we made an offer, of course, but we hadn’t been back inside since the inspection, not until after the house closed, when, keys in hand, we came to make plans.
I knew well that my mother had been wanting to move closer to me for some time, so when she took a fall on the sidewalk outside her senior apartment complex back east I broke her lease and brought her to Nevada.
I love any tale that there is about Brownies. They are just such a great form of fae. One that I am more than a little obsessed with. But I really wasn’t expecting to find a brownie story in a collection of mythology retellings. Not really sure why though…
This is a great modern-day version of the brownie tale. And a warning about thanking these fae. I love the connection between Robin and the narrators’ mother and how protective Robin is. What a wonderful modern-day version of an age-old tale.
Honestly, this is the whole reason that you should always try and honour brownies or spirits. Try not to be aggressive and disrespectful in the moments that you can be.
Title: Sawdust Author: Edward Carey In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Mythology Dates read: 31st March 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: In those long-ago days there were other people in their lives presumably, they moved about, they entered other people’s houses.
They’re just remembered as the two old people in the village. But their story will make you stop and think.
I really enjoyed the sweetness of this short story. Particularly when considering that it is also kind of creepy at the same time. The balance of sweet and wonderful with the slightly more horrific and dark feeling of this story worked wonderfully.
The idea of two elderly people who don’t want to live without one another is seriously cute. It’s also something that I can completely understand – I can’t imagine not having my partner by my side at all moments. Which made the ending of this story even more sweet and gorgeous.
All in all, I seriously and ridiculously enjoyed this short story. It was just a lot of fun and felt incredibly loving.
A college professor is in the heyday of his life. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t remember… everything. And when he decides to finally solve a mystery of his past, he might find just a little more than he bargained for.
I love that this is a short story which features Bacchus and the Bacchus cults. Which, honestly, might be one of the more terrifying aspects of Roman / Greek mythology. I mean, it seems all well and good to talk about the God of Wine and Revelry… until you realise that he had cults which liked to have orgies and tear their victim’s limb from bloody limb…
Emily Dickinson is a writer that seems to come up again and again in people’s minds and memories. I don’t really know that much about her. But after reading this, I feel like I just need to know more. There is something about her that lends itself to a lot of questions and speculation. Which, in this story led to a Bacchus cult and all sorts of horrible things… I’m not entirely sure where this obsession comes from. But I know that I want to find out!
I really loved all of the twists and turns in this short story. Particularly the gender reversal of the predator and prey. It draws you in wonderfully and leaves you with goosebumps running up and down your spine.
Title: Anthropogenesis, Or: How to Make a Family Author: Laura van den Berg In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Mythology Dates read: 17th February 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Penguin Books Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: They were struggling to find the right way to live.
The creation of a family and the world involves two individuals. But what happens when they are total opposites?
This was a quick and easy read. One that I enjoyed but wasn’t completely swept away by. It was just pleasurable. And kind of fun.
I love how this was pretty much a re-telling of a myth, but with a little bit more of a contemporary / modern language approach. It wasn’t one of those stories that completely swept me away, but it was one that I enjoyed.
This was a great beginning to the XO Orpheus collection. One that I enjoyed, and makes me want to sink deeper into the collection.