Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith

I am an Alexander McCall Smith fan. I counted the titles in the front of Dream Angus, and I calculated that I had read fifteen of his books. Sixteen now. I am inclined to enjoy them before I ever start, and I have not yet been disappointed.

Dream Angus is unlike anything else I have read by McCall Smith. It is not a mystery or an academic satire or a book continuing the story from another book. It is a book in a series, but not one by the author; it is in the Myth Series by Canongate, which includes books by Karen Alexander, Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, and others. It is not funny like some of the other McCall Smith books, though the holy man who can sleep under water without drowning and the pigs who start their own village amused me. It is somewhat melancholy in a way reminiscent of the serious parts of the 44 Scotland Street Series.

Angus is the Celtic god of dreams and love. McCall Smith tells of his birth from the union of the powerful god Dagda and the water spirit Boann. Mixed in with the retelling of myth are contemporary stories that are variations on the myths, involving dreams as a part of the plot device. In each there is an Angus character, though the reader may have to search for him. McCall Smith also draws from William Shakespeare's Richard III and the poetry of William Butler Yeats. The story ends with a poem.

I am still trying to understand all of what happens in Dream Angus. I might wait a couple of weeks and read it again. It is worth rereading.

McCall Smith, Alexander. Dream Angus. New York: Canongate, 2006 ISBN 1841958239

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