Myths of Origin by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I find it almost impossible to review Cat Valente's work.
Why? Because I'm personally incapable of capturing all the freaky-cool things she is able to do with words. So what do I recommend? READ HER. You'll see what I mean and thank me for it and be sure to close your mouth sometimes or the flies will find new homes there. :)
The Labyrinth - You could say this is a tale about a monkey and a minotaur going through a labyrinth, but that kinda misses the whole damn point that this is CAT VALENTE writing it. It's an early piece and really showcases just how freaking smart and educated she is. Add tons of scholarly references, make the prose as florid as you please, and turn the whole thing on its head by being a tale to be cherished in an Illuminated Medieval book. :)
Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams - Freaking awesome. An old woman in Medieval Japan takes on the role of a Sphinx, a dreamer, a devourer, and a goddess. I can't tell whether she's actually a place or a dream or just an old woman. But damn this one kicked my ass. :)
The Grass-Cutting Sword - Woman and snake. Is there a difference? Okay, no, this isn't a joke, but a seriously amazing piece that dives deep into a mental space that turns amazingly original and complex.
Under in the Mere - Maybe my least favorite of the bunch, it's still amazing for not only it's effortless scholarship, but its wealth of detail in Arthurian legends, its unique take on truly sensual (but not always sexual) takes on the knights and maidens, and the interesting place that the search for the grail takes them. ... CALIFORNIA? And yet it still reads like a traditional, if amazingly poetical, legend. :)
Valente is a treasure. Read it just for the language, stay for the ideas, and fall in love because there is no other way to be.
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