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Metamorphica

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In the tradition of Zachary Mason’s bestselling first novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey – where he recast episodes from Homer’s masterpiece – Metamorphica now reimagines Ovid’s epic poem of endless transformation, Metamorphoses. Just as the Roman poet reinvigorated the Greek Classical legends 700 years after Homer, so Mason now gives us a radical and exciting renovation ...more
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published August 2nd 2018 by Jonathan Cape (first published July 10th 2018)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Zachary Mason, who retold Homer’s story of the wanderings of Odysseus in his well-received 2007 debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, takes on Ovid‘s epic narrative poem Metamorphoses in his latest work, Metamorphica (2018). Mason distills Metamorphoses’ over 250 Greek myths into 53 brief stories, including the tales of Arachne, Daedalus and Icarus, Philemon and Baucis, Narcisssus, Achilles, Midas and many more.

Metamorphica is a loosely connected c
...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
This is a stunning book. So beautifully lyrical. Gorgeous prose... But I was left cold. I think I love Ovid's Metamorphoses too much to let my heart love this too. Such a shame really because I was very much looking forward to this. And I guess the icing on the cake of disappointment was the retelling of Orpheus in the Underworld. Orpheus and Eurydice is my favourite ever Greek myth. I read it first when I was a really young girl and it just touched my soul in only the way a soul can be touched ...more
Daniel Chaikin
43. Metamorphica (audio) by Zachary Mason
Readers: Bronson Pinchot, Kevin Kenerly, Robertson Dean, Will Damron, Xe Sands, Amy Landon, Kate Reading, Robin Miles
published: 2018
format: 6:31 Libby audiobook (~181 pages, 304 pages in hardcover)
acquired: Library
listened: Aug 8-16
rating: 2½

A very recent promising release with some super positive professional reviews, a beautiful hardcover (which I've only seen as pictures), and, for audio, an elaborate audiobook cast with several very good readers. I fe
...more
Jenia
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book from the publishing company Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

After having read Mason's previous book — a collection of reimaginings of the Odyssey — last year, I was very excited for his "follow-up" reimaginings of further Greco-Roman myths. Metamorphica didn't disappoint.

Metamorphica is based on the myths found in Ovid's Metamorphoses — although not every myth found there, as the original has 15 books worth of content. Still, in the 53 short stories we get to meet charac
...more
Ann-Marie
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a review of the audio book version.
I completely lost myself in this re-imagining of the mostly Ovidian myths of Greece and Rome by Zachary Mason. His imagery led me into flights of fancy, to use the old chestnut. I found myself stopping the recording to focus on a phrase or two, just to see where it took me.
These are not the myths I am familiar with, other than the story of Icarus and Midas. Most of them got rushed presentations back in my middle school English class, and I was a solid
...more
Bandit
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, I'm the first one to review this, how lovely. Greek mythology, mythology in general really, is a theme I love so much, I’ll revisit in in just about any form. This was, admittedly, something of an experimental retelling/reimagining of some of the beloved myths. I wasn’t familiar with the author’s work prior to this and the description was fairly vague, but what this ended up being is a relatively short collection of myths separated by pantheon divisions and told from a psychological perspect ...more
B. Rule
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are haunting, elegiac pieces that use Greek and Roman myths as writing prompts. As in his earlier works, Mason is concerned with modern, Borgesian ideas of identity, paradox, and surreal desolation, and he pumps those themes back into the original stories, sometimes filling them with new life, and sometimes bursting the seams of the original. I wouldn't say all of the pieces are successful, and some of them are too slight to add much to Ovid. But they're all gracefully written and it's nic ...more
Niki
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
not bad, not bad at all, but a little confusing at times - I'm a real fan of mythology, classic or other - generally I prefer when it's written like stephen fry's mythos, with a lot p tongue in cheek - as I said, not bad at all, a bit too serious maybe ...more
Yasmin ✨
Metamorphica contains retellings of Greek and Roman myths, mostly focussing on Ovid's Metamorphoses. I had read most of the original myths before and even translated a lot of them myself. Where this book falls flat for me is how it offers a new view on each myth, but one that doesn't really make a point or even make sense. I feel like when you reimagine or rewrite a myth there should be a point to your changes. A reason. A different meaning you want to offer.

The changes made no sense to me. At t
...more
Amy
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
The lyricism doesn’t always hit the mark and occasionally falls painfully flat, but I like what he does with Narcissus and Clytemnestra and this exchange between Minos and Daedalus:
“Then I’ll build you a monument in stone,a colossal statue to stand by the harbor, and every man who sails into Knossos will see your face and know your name. Your fame will be written in granite.”
“My face ,” he says, “is a face like any other, and my name is a noise with no meaning.”

Best in small doses.
Boy Blue
Greek myths are brilliant, what else would you expect from stories that have lasted millennia. However, Mason's telling will either enthrall or bore you depending on your stylistic tastes. It really comes down to whether you like his lyricism and turn of phrase. I feel he's kept the essence of all the stories while still leaving them set in ancient history. Of particular note is the transformation of the Midas touch into the creation of a monetary system, Persephone's curse into an eternal cycle ...more
Laura
Greek myth, in some form, has lasted thousands of years and even now still holds an intense fascination. They really are seamless, timeless stories. Mason expertly crafted slightly new, subtle retellings of some of Ovid's famous tales, and at the heart of them all is transformation and change. The style is similar to vignette, all very short, brief, but impactful. I really enjoyed the imaginative yet subtle play within each of the stories, the gods present but also floating through each page, ab ...more
Tom Kenis
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A poetic (f)re(e)telling of the Greek myths.
One of the best reads this year.
Phebe
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myths
All sparks, no fire.
Emmeline
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A beautiful transfiguration-- full of sharp, fecund grace.

The author's metamorphosis of Ovid's poem is sensuous, visceral, raw, joyful, fluid. Ancient mythologies echo of Borges and Calvino, and become timelessly postmodern. While Mason's first celebrated novel "The Lost Books of the Odyssey" featured predominantly masculine voices, Metamorphica comes alive-- sings, peals, whispers, keens-- with female experience and narrative.

It's a nuanced, lyrical and above all, heartfelt work-- a novel to
...more
Jim Puskas
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have this image of Zachary Mason strolling about in a gallery of bright shiny toys, examining the hundreds of tales that Ovid left behind to amuse, edify and confound us over the past two millennia. In Mason's playful hands those stories and the gods, demigods and humans who populate them become gambling-bones, fiddle-sticks, golden coins to be tossed, to discover where they might land, what new adventures they might set loose. Some of them turn in upon themselves, becoming swallowed up by the ...more
Zachary Houle
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
What seems to be a new trend among authors is taking stories that are in the public domain and rewriting them with a modern sensibility. Daniel Mallory Ortberg did it a few months ago with his book The Merry Spinster, which refashioned old fairy tales with new twists on them. Now, Zachary Mason has turned in a book based on old Greek mythology and the writing of Ovid called Metamorphica. It’s not the first time he has done such a thing — his earlier book, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, was based ...more
Naomi Ruth
I picked this up at the library to read the story about Dionysos and was not planning on reading the whole thing. I read the first couple of pages and knew I would read every. last. word. I did not devour this book; this book devoured me. It was incredibly surreal. It was nothing I could ever write and yet... There were moments when I felt like I was reading something from a future Me. The stories wrapped themselves around me and put me in this fugue state. I loved the story of Thetis and how ma ...more
Aaminah Ackerman
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book...

There are the stables where I lay with three slaves in succession the night after Agamemnon's departure; regrettably, I didn’t conceive, and so lost my chance to put a bastard on his throne. There’s the white hemisphere of Agamemnon’s father’s tomb, where I seduced Aegisthus, the singer left behind to entertain me; I got him drunk, first – the done thing, I believe – but even drunk he said he could not possible, that it was a matter of loyalty, of honour, for Agamemnon had treated
...more
Olivier
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A stunningly audacious re-imagining of ancient myths. A sea-goddess is freed once, but was twice imprisoned; the mirror of words becomes the mirror of persons; and a fierce king rages against his final foe.

Mason's masterpiece of a novel has been dubbed Borgesian by others before me, but in my mind it far exceeds the work of the Argentine writer. Characters' thought-frames are etched out of poems, sketched with a grace I have rarely encountered before. Here the stories speak not a word too many;
...more
Maggie Chen
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mason has been accused of falling into the fashionable habit of 're-writing a classic book with a modern sensibility'. In fact, there's not a scrap of 'modern sensibility' here, which really would be a sin. Mason's drawing from somewhere else. I think this book is a work of genius. ...more
Debs
I really enjoyed parts of this one. There were a couple in particular that I think would do well expanded into larger pieces and/or theater works.
Nelli SilveryMoon
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favourite is Narcissus
Fraser Kinnear
Myth should be essential, but often seems schematic. Less a literature of fundamental power than that literature’s echo. The project of Metamorphica is to write the mythology I wish I’d found, much as Ovid did, moving lightly through the ancient sources, taking up what he liked, and reinventing it, as I’ve done with this book.

It’s a time-honored law of Hollywood that movie sequels financially perform better at the box office, simply because audiences are familiar with the characters. There are o
...more
Luis
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not quite as good for me as The Lost Books of the Odyssey, but still showcases Mason’s ability to be emotionally devastating on love, death, and obsession in small bites. Some of the stories will leave you staggered, which is much of what you can hope for from something like this.

Relative to Lost Books, two big things stuck out. The first was simply my fault - I’m not as familiar with Ovid (though I am with the Greek myths more generally) so _for me_ the book didn’t benefit as much as L
...more
Lynette
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
3.75/5 stars! Definitely in my Greek mythology mood lately. I love how this author could make smooth transitions into different characters. The first half of the book really showed that well. However! I was NOT a fan of him completely changing stories. Like with Daphne. The whole point of the story was she turned herself into a tree to escape Apollo’s advances. The Gods were ruthless savages at times, and at times it seems Mason was trying to sugar coat it. I also didn’t like how he would change ...more
Kim Lockhart
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you love ancient Greek mythology, as I do, this sultry, richly textured reinterpretation of Ovid's writing will thrill you. The quality of the storytelling improves steadily, as the book progresses, and the author's endnotes are enlightening.

Mason updates the mythology by ascribing greater courage, selflessness, and integrity to the female characters than in most reimagined modern works. He paints both mortal and immortal males as petulant, passionate, and prideful, though vanity seems to be
...more
Kathy Leland
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this kind of book -- Mason bases his tales on Ovid's Metamorphoses, but then soars from there into all the other possible corners and unexplored edges of the stories, adding depth, creating interesting possibilities, exploring possible plots and consequences in fascinating ways. His stories are often short, evocative, and always in the spirit of the Greek and Roman originals. Mason is also a very accomplished writer with a true appreciation for language and evocative detail. I am looking ...more
Alec
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mason derives fresh perspectives from centuries old myths, kindling (a favorite word of his) a new flame at the altar of Ovid. His telling captures emotions of loss, jubilee, and of course, transformation in the form of short stories that feel at once punctual and sweeping. For someone not totally familiar with Ovid, reviewing the older's work after Mason's is a unique experience. ...more
Kathy Piselli
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
My two favorites were Philemon & Baucis' story of never being parted and Herakles' slaying of the Nemean lion in which he devolves into the ancient monster he'd slain. The only thing that marred this book for me were the occassional editing mistakes (born, not borne, along - a field sewn, not sown, with salt). Bring back human proofreaders! ...more
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ACPL Online Book ...: Tales worth retelling 1 4 Jul 17, 2018 02:26PM  

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