METAMORPHICA by Zachary Mason
Kirkus Star

METAMORPHICA

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A computer scientist who earned literary renown with The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2010), Mason shows that his novelistic debut was a warm-up for an even more ambitious reimagining of an epic work.

Where Odysseus unifies the earlier work (both in Homer and in Mason), Ovid’s Metamorphoses and, necessarily, Mason's latest are more sprawling, introducing readers to the likes of Icarus, Midas, Orpheus, and Eurydice, many of whom narrate their own stories, with Mason adding the Roman author himself to the cast of characters. Ovid ends the book exiled from his homeland, his stories in shards, as “some trace their ancestry to the original, but all, by now, are corrupt, little more than florilegia of ghost stories, quotations out of context, fragments of geography. Through the incessant operation of chance some few have come to resemble their original, but there’s no way to find them.” Amid the loop of time and space, where years pass as waves and centuries are but an eye’s blink, the only constant is change, as the title implies. Mason takes his opening epigram from Ovid“Everything changes, nothing ends”—but later puts those words into the mouth of Dionysos in the dream of his friend Midas, who has transformed the world by introducing money. “I found that money had made the world as mutable as water,” he muses. Within this literary world, the likes of Narcissus and Helen of Troy have interior lives, previously unexplored motives, and doubts, though as the cycle of myth proceeds toward its conclusion, the one thing that has never changed is Death, presented here as a friend or lover to some, an enemy to most others, but the fate for all. Amid the shape-shifting throughout this work, there’s an immutable quality. “Faces are drawn in water, and names written in dust,” according to the renewed mythos. “Even persons are ephemeral—in the end, there’s only pattern.”

Both soaring and deep, this dazzling narrative creates a fictional universe of myth that transcends time itself.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-374-20864-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2018




MORE BY ZACHARY MASON

FictionVOID STAR by Zachary Mason
by Zachary Mason
FictionTHE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY by Zachary Mason
by Zachary Mason

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionORFEO by Richard Powers
by Richard Powers
NonfictionAN ODYSSEY by Daniel Mendelsohn
by Daniel Mendelsohn
NonfictionULYSSES by James Joyce
by James Joyce