Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A Book Of Cussing, Bodily Functions And Myth
By Maggie Hellwig in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 27, 2013 9:00PM
Stories are the basic blueprint of our, and everyone else's, society. Stories both founded in truth or fiction — religious texts, history books, or even newspapers — determine everyday traditions and actions. Then, of course, there is the infinite number of stories that influenced the populace of the past: We call them myths. There are thousands of myths, not to mention a plethora of versions.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago student and all-around funny man Cory O'Brien dedicated a blog and and now has written a book containing these stories. His goal: To learn everything possible about myths, chop out the bullshit, and leave readers with an uncensored version of the tales. The aforementioned book, Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology, rounds up some of the more popular adventures.
O'Brien's writing is gruff, hilarious, perhaps a little too loud and bombastic at times, but there's no doubt that he's thoroughly researched his topics. His candor likens to a tirade of Liz Lemon's deranged ex-boyfriend, Dennis Duffy of 30 Rock, had his skull contained a well-read brain. For instance, O'Brien describes the creation of humans by the Egyptian God, Ra, like so:
"...But Ra does not even give a shit
he just goes ahead and FUCKS HIS OWN SHADOW UNTIL HE GETS PREGNANT.
THEN HE GIVES BIRTH TO KIDS
OUT OF HIS MOUTH
IN THE LEAST CLASSY WAYS POSSIBLE.
If Egypt is to be believed
you are all either descended from spit or puke.
(depending on whether you are a boy or a girl)."
Above is a pretty tame example. While we certainly hope that this isn't a book you would purchase for a young child, it's more so the content of the myths that's to blame for any obscenity rather than O'Brien's language. We're not exactly sure how one would go about a retelling of a Native American house full of vaginas or the Japanese God of inclement weather defecating on rice fields, without getting a little crass in the process.
The myths are divided into sections by cultures and religions: Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Mayan, Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Japanese, African, Chinese, Sumerian, Native American, and (the most outlandish) United States of American. They are accompanied by the illustrations of Sarah E. Melville. Her drawings, similar to O'Brien's writing style, are of traditional images that have been made victim of her crude (but apt) graffiti. Her illustration of the Mayan calendar has been turned into a game of "HOW MANY WANGS CAN YOU COUNT?" and Hindu gods are adorned with KISS make-up.
Despite the batty humor and all of the capital letters (which we assume one would scream if reading aloud), Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes is not without purpose. It's refreshing to read accounts of stories, most of which are usually met with such gravity, treated in a manner that's just as violent, weird, and gross as their plots. O'Brien doesn't hold anything back, and not only is it a relief, but it makes for a really fun read. Each myth receives equal treatment: from the Sumerian bromance of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to the whacky religion of Scientology; from the Judeo-Christian creation story, to scientific evolution — proving in the author's own way that every theory under the sun is just another story to tell.