Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Around the world in 80 hours

Got totally sidetracked yet again with reading. This is why I never had diaries as a kid; I'm terrible about writing down where I have already been. Maybe I just need that much time to process what is happening around me. Yes. Let's call it that. Makes it sound less lazy of me. Plus, all the books I have picked up lately have been pretty engrossing. I just want to get to the next book. I now have an inexcusable backlog of reviews to get posted. The silver lining is readers of this blog will get to enjoy many reviews for the days to come. Let's start with some myth and wonder; my favorite type of reading.

Ancient & Epic Tales From Around the World by Heather Forest

If you have stopped by my blog before, you may have noticed that I am a sucker for folktales and fables--plus that cover. That cover will suck you in picking it up. I am extremely fascinated with the stories of other cultures. It is amazing how many of the mythological explanations for the universe around us are similar. Almost every single culture I have come across has a flood story. While I initially fell in love with folktales learning about my English roots, I found an increasing similarity of stories around the world. Then, I started researching biblical stories and tying them together with oral stories of isolated cultures. I began to have a strong feeling that what I had always dismissed as a child must have some foundation in truth.

Heather Forest also has an interest in folktales and fables of the world. She has spent years researching these tales. Many have begun as oral histories passed from teacher to disciple for generations before ever being recorded on hard medium. As any person who has played telephone as a child, you will realize how distorted this has made many of the tales. What Ms. Forest is attempting to accomplish with this collection is a middle ground for the stories. She has taken all the renditions she has uncovered over the years and seen where the picture overlaps and trimmed away the strands that have diverged.

She also included a little narrative to flesh out the protagonists like any disciple of folktales would to make the rendition her own. This doesn’t bother me in the way alternative history gives narrative to Einstein or others because, while I have begun to believe these ancient historical figures may have indeed been a factual part of our history, many stories were created by the people to explain life and the gods to children. Their narrative started out as fiction; so it can remain fiction.

These collected stories are a quick read and well worth it. All the cultures are represented and would make an excellent beginning collection for children. They will be able to get a sense for the vastness of the world in just one book. Hopefully collections like this can keep the integrity of folktales alive for many generations to come.