Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes
by Cory O'Brien, fantasy (2013)
Perigee, $14.00, ISBN 978-0-399-16040-0


Cory O'Brien owns, runs, and writes for bettermyths.com, which is a crude, vulgar, and hilarious website that sees him retelling stories from mythology and even fantasy fiction in his own way. Unsurprisingly, he eventually got a book deal and Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes is the result. It is a collection of some of his writings related to mythology from various cultures.

Mind you, this is not a serious work, despite the subtitle A No-Bullshit Guide To World Mythology: the author promises in the introduction that there will be some bullshit. At its best, this book is like an epic profanity-laced soliloquoy penned by Kevin Smith for his character Jay, and at its worst, it's something created by a fellow who has about half the collective IQ of the braindead cast of Jersey Shore. One way or the other, it's not something that can be easily forgotten after the last page.

Nothing gets spared here, although the bulk of the stories are predictably devoted to Greek and Norse mythology. Unfortunately, these episodic Tourette syndrome outbursts don't portray a full, or even necessarily coherent, idea of the actual tales being skewered by the author, so read this for the humor and not the subject matter.

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes sends some love to Norse goddess Freyja after she slept with four dwarves for four days for a necklace. Well, she is the goddess of love and sex, after all.

And Odin is like, "Yeah, that sounds like Freyja.
I mean WHAT??
I WANTED TO FUCK FREYJA.
WE ALL WANTED TO FUCK FREYJA.
THAT'S LIKE THE WHOLE REASON WE KEEP HER AROUND
AND ALL WE HAD TO DO ALL THESE YEARS
WAS OFFER HER JEWELRY?
UNACCEPTABLE.
GO STEAL HER NECKLACE."

And hello there, Japan:

So they do their crazy marriage thing
and then immediately get down to business
and then suddenly Izanami gives birth
to a hideous mutant leech baby.
BIG SURPRISE, ASSHOLES.
Y'ALL ARE SIBLINGS.

And even the Judeo-Christian mythology gets a shout-out. Here's Adam, after being persuaded to eat that apple by Eve,

So he eats the apple
and suddenly both of them realize
HOW INCREDIBLY NAKED THEY ARE.
THIS IS WHAT THE TREE DOES
IT LETS YOU KNOW YOU'RE NAKED
THE MYTHICAL TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
COULD HAVE EASILY BEEN REPLACED
BY A FIVE-DOLLAR MIRROR
FROM A COLOMBIAN BROTHEL.

And God isn't pleased.

And then God wakes up from one of his meganaps
and he's like "HEY
WHO THE FUCK TOLD YOU YOU WERE NAKED?"
See, this was his big plan.
His big plan was just to look at naked people all day.

Juvenile? Sure. But the author has to be commended for knowing which button to push and which punchline to deliver. When he's on the roll, I find myself laughing like a deranged hyena. There are also some moments when he misses a few beats, especially the chapters on Egyptian and African mythology, when he often stumbles and the jokes feel more forced than anything else. But even at its weakest, this book still manages to get a chuckle from me, so I'm fine with it.

As someone who has a deep interest in mythology from all over the world, something that I couldn't shake off since my childhood days, I find this book is a much welcome diversion. Just be warned that this book is best read in small chunks at a time, as the incessant jokes centered around pee-pees and honey pots can get tedious after a while, as is the author's efforts to channel the dumbest character in every Scary Movie sequel in existence. But it's all good in the end, as this is a novelty book that works wonders as a pick-me-up kind of diversion.

Rating: 79


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