xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths
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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.
Elizabeth McCracken retells the myth of Lamia, the child-eating mistress of Zeus.
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.
at me I wondered whether she was on drugs. But she did a good job cleaning up that house. She and my mother seemed to get along companionably; she just didn’t have much to say to me. And so, since they didn’t seem to care whether I turned up or not, I relaxed into the new routine. I was busy enough that it was a relief to skip going over to my mother’s house every single day, a relief not to suddenly remember in the middle of the night that my mother’s trash can had to be put out. It was nice
form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. The selections in this book are the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Page 547 constitutes an extension of this copyright page. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Bernheimer, Kate. xo Orpheus : fifty new myths / Kate Bernheimer. pages cm ISBN 978-0-14-312242-5 ISBN 978-0-698-13626-7 1. Mythology,
and slept. This story is based on the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion, who makes a statue so perfectly beautiful that he falls in love with it. He prays to the goddess Aphrodite to bring her to life, and the goddess grants his wish and unites the pair in matrimony. In the original versions of the story, the statue-woman didn’t have a name, but she later became known as Galatea, milk-white. I was particularly inspired by Ovid’s retelling in his Metamorphoses, which ends with the birth
asked Marcus. “Duller. Many fewer. Motionless. Perspective is less noticeable. Things seem to have only a touch of a third dimension. I’m glad for the . . . diminishment. Now I have two ways to see. Thank you, Dad, thank you, David. You’ve given me a wonderful present.” “We have given you a choice,” said Marcus. “Always an ambiguous gift.” Lyle said suddenly, “Spiders—what’s their vision like?” David said, “Spiders usually have eight eyes placed in two rows on the front of the
new floors. In every room. Each board was as brittle as a Bostonian’s smile. Now they creaked and popped, here and there, as the figure stomped into view. Smaller than expected. Short and thin. How had this little man overpowered him? he wondered. He wasn’t huge, but he stayed in good shape. There was a throb in his stomach. Could he have fought back harder? He couldn’t even remember how this guy had gotten into the apartment. They had a security gate over the window in James’s room. They