Thursday, May 7, 2020

Mythago Wood (Mythago Wood, #1)Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I generally have an "um.. okay..." to a "hate" relationship to most 80's fantasy. I tend to love the era's SF and horror, so I often feel like I'm poo-pooing it unnecessarily. Aren't they all an interrelated tapestry?

Hmmm. I usually think so. But in this case? No. I don't want to go there. The '80s are a time of huge psychological infusion in literature and I always tend to like the IDEA of that more than the actual works that use it.

In this book, we're treated to an IDEA of fantasy that is part-Jungian but mostly a Freudian obsessional extreme. Or, if you want to look at it in a different way, it's the Grail quest motif as a symbol for the generative impulse. Maybe a bit like this: San Greal = Sang Real. The quest for the mythological not-girl, brothers killing brothers.

Or here's a big concern: regular people becoming myth and thereby gaining... and losing quite a bit in the process. The obsession cuts away at all the other things that make a person real until they are both bigger than life and much, much less.

So why did I give this four stars instead of five, if I like the basic idea so much? Especially since it won the World Fantasy Award in '85?

Because it got wonky.

I mean, I probably would have enjoyed it MORE had it gotten REALLY wonky with some better self-referential, partway meta core myths to work from, but this one hearkens back to a mix of Grail and directly-earlier influences... and then only took them so far.

I wound up wanting to like the IDEA behind this novel much more than the actual tale or the subject of the idea.

Now I want to go back to reading American Gods again.

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