Friday, May 15, 2009

The Mythology of Native North America

Last night I completed reading The Mythology of Native North America, by David Leeming and Jake Page. Followers of this blog will remember that I like to intersperse my novel reading with short stories, breaking up the longer works as well as allowing me to actually read some of my short story collections. For some reason I have never enjoyed reading many short stories one after the other so this process works for me.

I had hoped this book on mythology would work in the same way. After all a myth is usually written as a short story and I could simply read one or two of them between novels. However, this particular book is more of a text book, in some ways, about Native American Mythology. It certainly relayed many myths from widespread native American tribes and I enjoyed most of them pretty well. But there was also a lot of good explanation about the origins of the myths, how similar they were to many other world religions, and other pertanent facts. The book was a very good introduction for those that know little about this sort of mythology even if it wasn't what I had hoped for as far as serving my short story purpose.

The book is written almost like it was a master's thesis--lots of references to other works, citing source material etc. Definitely a necessity for the acedemic environment for which I believe it was intended. The authors divide the myths into major themes such as creation, flood, the afterlife, etc. I was truly surprised to see the similarities to other world mythology including Greek/Roman, Norse, Hebrew, Egyptian, etc. Most of the actual stories involving the myths were fairly plain and simple but the last section that dealt with the heroes and monster killing was probably my favorite. I suppose I am always a sucker for action and adventure no matter what form it takes. Since the book didn't break down into just a bunch of stories like I was expecting, I found myself reading quite a bit of it in between novels. I now have a taste for what these myths are and where they came from and can appreciate the themes that are there. I'm glad to have read this book but I think overall I still prefer the more common, familiar mythology such as the Greek pantheon, perhaps because it is so familiar.

So my next short story collection will be a return to the more normal format: Stephen King's Skeleton Crew. I'll share my thoughts on each entry as I finish it, tacking it on to the novel blog entry just as before.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

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  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
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  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire