Words on the Page

I’ve started reading again. Actually, I have never stopped reading once I learned how, but in recent months I have slowed considerably. However, on my brother’s example, I have joined goodreads.com and have set myself the goal of reading 50 books in 2011. Happily, I am 12% of the way towards reaching my goal, having finished the Lord of the Rings for the tenth time and then picked up a few new releases from the local library.

I recently finished a book, and posted this review on Goodreads:

Mysterious Celtic Mythology in American Folklore by Bob Curran
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Melodramatic and poorly written, this book is repetitive and sensationalist.

Each chapter is supposed to correspond to a different state in the United States, and is supposed to expound upon a Celtic myth which was transported to that state by Irish, English, Welsh, or Scottish immigrants. After the first several chapters, a pattern of repeated and rehashed background material emerges. There is little context, or detail, surrounding any of the supposed myths, supernatural encounters, or mysterious happenings. Mostly the tales themselves are third or fourth hand accounts. Given that the book portends to connect Celtic myths with American folklore, one would expect to see clear links between the two and delineated evidence of a natural progression, however, most of the myths and lore are connected by what can only be called circumstantial or coincidental means. Mostly I saw no clear reason to believe that the 17th or 18th century American tales were in any real way connected to the Celtic myths of the 13th and 14th centuries, as the author seemed desperate to prove without doing any sort of actual work. Pointing to extremely common and widespread themes, motifs, and images is not evidence of connective influence.

This book feels very much like a collection of campfire stories with some random historical details and facts thrown in to make it seem like a more scholarly work. While presented as the writing of an “expert” on Celtic mythology, I strongly suspect that the author is actually just a re-teller of other’s stories, which would be fine if he did it in a more original and succinct way.

I would not waste your time on this book. If you are interested in mythology and folklore, I would find one written by a professor, preferably peer-reviewed, of literature or mythology.

Basically this book promises what it does not deliver.

View all my reviews

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I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe. I write about what interests me.

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