In Chimera, John Barth injects his signature wit into the tales of Scheherezade of the Thousand and One Nights; Perseus, the slayer of Medusa; and Bellerophon, who tamed the winged horse Pegasus. In a book that the Washington Post called "stylishly maned, tragically songful, and serpentinely elegant", Barth retells these tales from varying perspectives, examining the myths' relationship to reality and their resonance with the contemporary world. A winner of the National Book Award, this feisty, witty, sometimes bawdy book provoked Playboy to comment, "There's every chance in the world that John Barth is a genius."
©1972 John Barth (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
I'll start with the positive: if you're looking for infinitely sophisticated, superbly written and masterfully narrated postmodern (meta-)fiction, look no further. The book is a prime example of the genre, and the narrator does a perfect job.
For me, however, there was something lacking. Had this been my first exposure to this type of fiction, I imagine I would have thought it the most amazing thing I'd ever read, but as things stand, I find that the style hasn't aged well. The structure, the language and the cleverness of it all are mind-boggling, but still it never drew more than a chuckle from me. It felt like an exercise in cleverness. The book isn't bad, far from it. I just felt that it lacked a point.
I may as well have listening to a middle school slander fest. Give me the mythology (it is rich enough), or make the tales come from some elementary cafeteria....
Disappointment, poorly spent credit.
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