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Myths reimagined in ‘xo Orpheus’

Kate Bernheimer. Photo by Brent Hendricks

Brooklyn BookBeat: Editor to speak in Greenpoint

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Icarus, Persephone, Odysseus and Poseidon are names that reverberate with familiarity. Now these and many other figures from mythology live again as their tales are reimagined in “xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths” (A Penguin Original), edited by Kate Bernheimer. Bringing figures from Greek, Indian, Punjabi, Inuit, Persian and Aztec traditions to the fore, the stories in “xo Orpheus” come from some of today’s most exciting contemporary fiction writers. As she did in “My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me,” Bernheimer assembles a diversity of voices to breathe new life into an ancient tradition. 

“xo Orpheus” presents a world of talkative goats, a cat lady, a bird woman, a beer-drinking ogre, and a squid who falls in love with the sun. Lauren van den Berg takes on Norse creation myth while Joy Williams gets inside the head of Argos, Odysseus’s faithful dog. Shane Jones explores coyote myths through the story of a young couple bringing their baby home from the hospital. Demeter and Persephone’s sad tale of separation becomes the story of a divorce. The fierce bonds of young friendship is the framework for Elanor Dymott’s version of Candaules and Gyges’s tale of betrayal. Kathryn Davis turns to the Inuit myth of Sedna, and Max Gladstone delves into Drona’s death in the Mahabharata.

The stories in “xo Orpheus” are full of boundless wonder and invention. “xo Orpheus” is a goodbye to the old way of mythmaking, a book that boldly heralds a new beginning for one of the world’s oldest literary traditions.

Bernheimer will appear in Brooklyn on Oct. 2, at Greenpoint’s WORD Bookstore, to discuss the book with regional contributors. 

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The Oct. 2 event will begin at 7 p.m. WORD is located at 126 Franklin St. in Greenpoint.


Kate Bernheimer is the editor of the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology “My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales” and the founder and editor of the literary journal Fairy Tale Review. Author of the story collections “Horse, Flower, Bird” and “How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales,” among many other books, she teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arizona.

September 30, 2013 - 2:00pm


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