Part of a series of books containing myths as retold by first-rank contemporary authors, this is Alexander McCall Smith’s telling of the Celtic myth of Dream Angus, a god of love, youth, beauty, and also the bringer of dreams. He is cherished by all, but fated to love only Caér, the swan maiden from his own dreams. Smith spins five charming stories of Dream Angus with five tales of his modern alter egos.
“…what is life but the pursuit of dreams?”
Thank you to Canongate Books for sending me a copy of this, I was so excited as I love takes on mythology.
[So excited in fact that my email said Revew Request in my haste to type. Let that sink in. Revew. I’m still mortified.]
Admittedly I’ve never read any of Alexander McCall Smith’s works before, I’d heard of him and had been interested but just hadn’t gotten around to it until now.
Dream Angus gives us an interwoven work of short stories that spans the ages to give us a more modern day retelling of the Celtic God of Dreams, Angus.
One thing that impressed me from the start is rarely do a read an introduction unless it’s an academic work, if it catches my eye I will and McCall Smith’s intro was actually very enjoyable to read. It’s hard to know how to introduce your own work when you’re tackling legends and myths and we all know many authors do it well, but it’s still always nice to know that even the prolific authors understand the delicate work they’re doing.
Onto the real meat of the book however I have to say this is just one of those books you read in an almost dreamy manner -no pun intended- it is something to be read as an experience rather than trying to just gobble it up, devour it, and analyze it. That comes later. Half jk.
Rather than trying to give an epic tale, threaded through various times and places are the stories of the small and wondrous gifts bestowed on people by the dreams and powers of Angus, there is love, there is peace, and of course most importantly there are the dreams.
My favorite parts were actually the tale of how Angus came to be, and how he confronted his Father eventually. [Would say more, but, spoilers!] There’s just always something about a good origins story to me.
This is a rather languid and flowery work, it’s not meant for those looking for a clear cut collection of short stories and/or a Michael Bay version of mythology.
Anyway, if you’re into a rather thought provoking novel that’s a leisurely [and rather short] read, I highly recommend Dream Angus to you. Don’t forget The Canons has a whole series of books done by well known authors, ‘The Myths’ and it includes works by Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, and Philip Pullman as well!
“But Angus does more than that: he represents youth and the intense, passionate love that we might experience when we are young but which we might still try to remember as age creeps up. Age and experience might make us sombre and cautious, but there is always an Angus within us- Angus the dreamer.”
-Alexander McCall Smith, 2006