Book Recommendation: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

Okay, so if you need a laugh for today, and you’re not too easily offended, this book is gold. A two of my friends and I have an interest in mythology (Norse, Greek, and Roman, Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.40.54 AMrespectively) and that might have been how I first came across this book. I honestly can’t remember, but I’m glad that I did. I had it saved on amazon for months before I finally got around to getting it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Just a warning, these are NOT the kinds of myths you read to entertain children. Which, really, wasn’t the point of myths and fairy-tales to begin with so…

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

Summary: “Get this:

Cronus liked to eat babies.

Narcissus probably should have just learned to masturbate.

Odin got construction discounts with bestiality.

Isis had bad taste in jewelry.

Ganesh was the very definition of an unplanned pregnancy.

And Abraham was totally cool about stabbing his kid in the face.

All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified…wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words.

Skeptical? Here are a few more gems to consider:

• Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.

• The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.

• The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties…on the corpses of their enemies.

• The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.

And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.”

-Summary from the book’s Amazon.com page

Genre: Humor

Author: Cory O’Brien

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Comments: Okay, as someone who’s studied mythology on more than one occasion, I thought this book was hilarious. I can remember a trip with my best friend (the one who likes Norse mythology) to a certain large chain bookstore. We were looking through the children’s section (naturally) when we ran across a book of Norse mythology. For children. A children’s book of Norse mythology.

Um, what?

Stephanie and I stared at each other, then the book, in amazement and no small amount of horror.

“But… Loki… the horse… Sleipnir…”

The book explained that particular story by saying that Loki “made friends” with the horse.

Made friends.

Yeah, that’s one way to put it.

It made us laugh though. The complete watering down of mythology. Anyone who’s read any of the original myths knows just how sexual and, sometimes, crude the original stories can be.

This book doesn’t shy away from that. It tells it in an extremely funny way, that is, yes, crude. But the source material really isn’t any better.

The thing is though, funny and entertaining as it is, the book is accurate. The stories are told with a modern, summarized twist, but they’re the real stories.

Another thing that I love about this book is that the author doesn’t just hit the major mythologies (the Greek, Roman, and Norse that I mentioned above.) He includes early Judeo-Christian stories, Sumerian mythology, Japanese mythology, Native-American stories, African mythologies. The title “World Mythology” is actually true. Actually, Roman myths aren’t listed, but they basically stole everything, word-for-word, from the Greeks anyway, so no great loss there. Change Zeus to Jupiter, Hera to Juno, and Aphrodite to Venus, and you’ve got Roman mythology.

Though I would like to see the author’s take on some stories about the Romans. Nero and Caligula, anyone?

Also, as someone who’s had to read Gilgamesh more than once, the chapter on Gilgamesh and Enkidu is hilarious. Just the title of it cracks me up.

If you’re not easily offended, and you want something quick and funny to read, I definitely reccomend this. Definitely keep it away from kids, though.

Here’s the link on Amazon.com. (Links to the Kindle version)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Book Review/Recommendation: When Rabbit Howls

Here’s another long one.

Trigger warning: Okay, before I say anything more at all about this book, I need to make one thing clear. This book deals with, in no uncertain terms: incest, severe sexual abuse of a child, severe physical abuse of a child, and just outright brutal abuse of a child on all levels. When the step-father in the book is termed “sick”, I’m going to go ahead and warn that he really, really, is. There are things in this book that I honestly had to go back and reread, because at first, I didn’t realize what was actually happening. I sat there thinking, “There’s no way this is what I think it is. There’s no way someone could do this to a child.” Well, he did.  With that said…

When Rabbit Howls

Summary: “Black Katherine is the willful guardian of the children. Sewer Mouth voices rage in a torrent of four-letter words. Twelve is the sensitive, artistic child.

The cover from the 1990, mass market edition.

The cover from the 1990, mass market edition.

Rabbit doesn’t speak, but only howls in pain…

These are some of the personalities that live within Truddi Chase. For her entire life they have protected her from the

memories of unspeakable acts of child abuse and incest that she endured for years. To escape the horror of the violen

t abuse, the two-year-old child “went to sleep”- and created the inner world of “the Troops,” the ninety-two voices that shielded her from the pain, but she never fully knew existed until she established her career, got married, and started a family.

Only now has Truddi Chase unlocked the door to the terrifying crimes of the past.

Like Sybil, this is a spellbinding journey through the fragmented world of multiple personality. But unlike anything you’ve ever read, this unique book has over ninety authors. For all of Truddi Chase’s “Troops” speak out to tell her story. All but one…”

-From the summary of the 1990 mass-market edition.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Author: The Troops for Truddi Chase, with an Introduction and Epilogue by Robert A. Phillips, Jr., Ph.D.

Publisher: Penguin

Rating:

Comments: Okay, I guess the first thing to get out of the way is my own thoughts on Dissociative Identity Disorder in general.  With that said, yes, I do believe that Dissociative Identity Disorder (it’s still referred to in the book as Multiple Personality Disorder, since they were working on a much older version of the DSM (III) The change occurred with (IV) was released) is a real diagnosis. My personal interest with the disorder is the questions of “how exactly do these personalities emerge? How are the ‘born’, as some of the Troops call it?” There’s also the question of why do some people “split” and some don’t? Some people say it has to do with the creativity of intelligence of the “original” or “first-born”, but can that be tested once the mind has been fragmented by alters?

Okay… so after that. I’ll try not to go off continue going off psych ideas and that kind of thing. DID fascinates me, and so this book really held my attention.

It’s not an easy book to read, I’ll say that much, and I don’t just mean the topic itself or the abuse. Yes, the sections that describe how the stepfather (who is never named) treated Truddi as a child are hard to read just for their content alone, but I’ll come to that. What I mean here is that the book is written by Truddi’s alters, the Troops. It stays consistently in third person, but there are changes in tone, and there are multiple speakers. I had to reread sections more than once to make sure that I was really understanding what was going on.  It gets easier to read as the book goes on, not just because you get used to the style, but also as Truddi and the Troops go through therapy and there is more cohesion among their ranks, which, in turn, seems to bring more cohesion to the story as they tell it.

And I think that’ what made this book so appealing to me. This was not just a story about someone living with DID, it was the story of those alters becoming aware of one another, because often, not only is the original not aware of the alters, but the alters are not always aware of each other. Reading as the alters became aware, and more tolerant of each other, is fascinating.

Some parts of the book are still difficult to understand. The parts about the mind are, to put it lightly, complicated. Even today, we only understand about 10% of how the “average” human mind works. Think about someone with 92 other people living in her head, and then think how easy it would be to make sense of that. In fact, that’s another key element of the book. What is “normal” in reference to the human mind? How can we categorize “normal” or “abnormal” when we know so little about it? Truddi, or the woman that the troops have constructed to take her place, constantly fears that she is insane, because her mind, measured against her husband’s or her daughter’s, is “abnormal.”

The Troops themselves are just as fascinating. However, there are a lot of them introduced throughout the story, though not all 92. I kept a running count as new names appeared. I just kept a note with the names, and something about their functions. Sometimes, when one is named, that one mention is all you’ll get of them. Some like, Mable, the Junkman, and the Recorder are only mentioned, and we’re never really shown them “evidencing” themselves. Others, like the Suicidal Warrior and Sixteen only appear a handful of times. Others are “Front-runners”. They appear several times and often they “speak” for others. Catherine, Twelve, Nails, Ten Four and Mean Joe, among others.

And the names. For instance, there’s Catherine, Black Katherine, Lady Catherine, and Sister Mary Catherine. And yes, they are all separate alters.

The most fascinating of all of the Troops is, without a doubt, Ean. The other Troops seem to respect him as someone that “sits above” the others. They never refer to him by name, and consider using it to be a mistake. He is more often referred to as the Irishman, since he has a noticeable brogue. I won’t go into everything that he’s implied to be, but even after finishing the book, he remains an a huge enigma. At the end of the book, in a letter from the Troops to Dr. Phillips, they mention that, even with all that they have learned from and about one another, even they aren’t sure exactly who or what he is. He seems to be able to direct the Troops as he will, and has a penchant for metaphors and turns of phrase that are almost… musical. He also alludes, quite often to war and battles.

It’s never said in the book, nor have I read it anywhere else, but I personally wonder if, given Ean’s repetitive use of battle metaphors, he was the one that styled the alters as the “Troop Formation,” but I, like I said, there’s no evidence that I know of, one way or another.

Also, someone (Ean, most likely) in the Troops likes Tennyson and Longfellow. Hard not to like someone like that.

The one section that was the most confusing was the last chapter. Again, I won’t go into detail, but the situation, as it’s presented, is ambiguous. In his epilogue, Dr. Phillips (“Stanley”, to the Troops) gives what he believes is the more correct explanation. Ean’s comments towards the end seem to agree with Dr. Phillips statements.

The part I’m not particularly sold on is the bits about the energy levels, at least in the extreme cases. But who knows.

Another thing to note is how the Woman perceives the Troops, when they emerge. The book will say, “Twelve was sitting by the table, talking to Mean Joe. Catherine was painting her fingernails, and Sister Mary Catherine was by the window praying,” or something along those lines. The Troops are perceived as separate, physical people, despite the fact that we know they only inhabit one body. I don’t know if that’s something unique to the Troops, if it’s added for the story to make more “sense”, or if it’s a generality among people with DID, but I do find it interesting, either way.

Overall, I would certainly recommend this book, especially if you have an interest in cognitive and abnormal psychology. But I definitely would recommend it even if you’re not in psychology. It’s an extremely interesting read. However, as I said at the beginning of the post, there are several mentions of violent sexual and physical abuse. The stepfather tormented Truddi in increasingly violent and vicious ways.

I definitely recommend the book, but it certainly should be approached with caution.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Children’s Book Recommendation

I have a niece that will be three at the end of February and, to my great delight, she enjoys books. As such, I’m always on the hunt for books for her. But, I’m not usually a fan of your typical, cookie cutter kids books. Don’t get me wrong, I love Little Golden books and the like, but sometimes, something else just stands out a bit more. One of the first books I got her, that she really seemed to enjoy, was Little Mist, the story of a baby snow leopard exploring his world for the first time. It had beautifully illustrated picture s of leopards, red pandas, and black bears. It’s a lovely unique little book.

When all of the Christmas decorations were coming down and everything being put back in its place in the living room, I ran across one of my own books that I loved, and am now looking for a copy for my niece.

The book is called The Rough-Face Girl, written by Rafe Martin and illustrated by David Shannon, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine. And I can promise, there’s a reason I mention that.

Every culture has some version of the “Cinderella story.” The plot is pretty simple, and relatively predictable, but when well written, still manages to be a wonderful story. That’s what this book is. It’s an Algonquin version of the Cinderella story.

Inside Summary:

IMG_20140115_151108_648

The cover of my own copy

“In a village by the shores of Lake Ontario lived an invisible being. Al the young women wanted to marry him because he was rich, powerful, and supposedly very handsome. But to marry the invisible being the women had to prove to his sister that they had seen him. And none had been able to get past the sister’s stern, all-knowing gaze.

Then came the Rough-Face girl, scarred from working by the fire. Could she succeed where her, beautiful, cruel sisters had failed?

From Algonquin Indian folklore comes one of the most haunting, powerful versions of the Cinderella tale ever told.”

 

Like I said, the plot is predictable, but it is beautifully written. One of my favorite passages is this:

“And the Rough-Face Girl, looking up into the night sky, said, ‘the runner of his sled? Why, it is the Spirit Road, the Milky Way of stars that spreads across the sky.”

I just think it’s a wonderful style of writing. However, if the writing doesn’t impress, the illustrations should. This image is one that accompanies the above passage.

IMG_20140115_151301_677

“the runner of his sled…”

This one occurs as the Rough-Face Girl is walking through the forest on her way to meet the invisible being.

IMG_20140115_151200_296

I wish these photos did the illustrations justice…

Overall, this is a wonderful book, probably best for ages 4+. But it’s also definitely a book that kids can love for many years, if not for the story, then for the beautiful way it’s presented.

I’m also working on a list of other books, and a couple of series, that I’ll be posting, that are for various ages, so there’s more to come!

Cheers!

Mayuuya