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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spans Myth and Reality from Yesterday to Today
I find Alexander McCall Smith's stories about Africa and her people to be fascinating. I wondered what his story-telling gift would make of the Celtic god of dreams. The structure surprised me, as the stories moved back and forth between the mythical God and the role of dreams in real life. On occasion, the connections between the stories were wrought with almost sublime...
Published on 3 Jun 2008 by Donald Mitchell

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
This is one of the Canongate Myth Series in which well known authors are invited to tackle and rewrite their favourite mythological story. It's a great premise and so far has yielded some very interesting work. Here, the prolific author Alexander McCall Smith, perhaps best known for his Mma Ramotswe detective novels, retells the celtic myth of Dream Angus, a kind of...
Published on 3 Nov 2007 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 3 Nov 2007
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the Canongate Myth Series in which well known authors are invited to tackle and rewrite their favourite mythological story. It's a great premise and so far has yielded some very interesting work. Here, the prolific author Alexander McCall Smith, perhaps best known for his Mma Ramotswe detective novels, retells the celtic myth of Dream Angus, a kind of proto BFG figure! I enjoyed this book, but felt that at times it was a little fragmented. It is set as a series of interlinked short stories, ricocheting back and forth between telling the story of the creation and life of Dream Angus, and stories set in modern Scotland which take on themes and meaning from their entwining with both the story of Dream Angus and his mythological purpose. Some of the stories are quite brutal, others tender and lyrical, all well written, but it is sometimes hard to see where the myth fits in. Nevertheless, an interesting attempt, and one which works at many, if not all levels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "When I am drowsy, when I am ready for rest; Will he come to me, Dream Angus?", 20 Dec 2009
By 
Sam Woodward (UK) - See all my reviews
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Dream Angus is the Celtic God of dreams. As love is the providence of dreams, Angus breaks & mends hearts wherever he roams; according to the author, "he represents the intense, passionate love we experience when we are young but which we might still try to remember as age creeps up." But love can be cruel & while often compassionate (especially to pigs) Angus has a dark side as well...

Every other chapter retells an ancient story about Angus himself, while the ones in between tell of ordinary mortals affected by Angus in modern-day Scotland, showing how their lives correlate with the ancient stories preceding them. This is an effective structure for showing the relevance of the myths today but for the most parts, I did not find the stories to be particularly engaging. While some were rather touching, I could not relate to the people & situations in most of them, plus Angus himself was utterly unfathomable on any level beyond the most superficial. This was disappointing because surely myths should convey universal truths which apply to us all? I was also expecting a little more depth, such as that displayed by the other books in Canongates' Myth series which I had previously read.

The subject-matter reminded me of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman but there was none of Gaiman's subtlety & daring, and restricting the location to Scotland meant there was none of his creativity either. On the whole, Dream Angus was an enjoyable read but the lightest of Canongates' myths series with much less to say than Weight or The Penelopiad. A nice read but not a particularly exciting or memorable one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting curio, 15 Feb 2010
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This slim volume is a collection of five contemporary short stories, loosely connected via the threads of an interwoven retelling of the Celtic myth of the god Angus, bringer of Dreams. The writing here is much flatter than Alexander McCall Smith's normal style, with the mythical elements being treated as a bare recounting of events which, while pointing up the more immediate handling of the contemporary stories, nevertheless leaves the figure of Dream Angus so remote and detached that he becomes nothing more than one of the interconnecting threads upon which the other stories are hung.

The stories themselves are light-weight and insubstantial vignettes; snap-shots, really, of moments in lives where dreams have provided pivotal points in some way. This gentle recounting of far from momentous happenings -- of things which are of importance only at the individual, personal scale -- is one of McCall Smith's great fortes. He almost overdoes things here, though, especially as the book is nothing like long enough to win a reader over with any gentle, sustained insistence, as with, say, the The Sunday Philosophy Club series. The volume has some value as in interesting curio with which to wile an evening but offers little beyond that.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "There is always an Angus within us - Angus the dreamer.", 19 Aug 2007
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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DREAM ANGUS is part of the Canongate series, in which popular writers take a myth and re-tell it in their owm personal way. Although I have not read any other books by McCall Smith, or any of the other Canongate books, I was quite pleasantly surprised by DREAM ANGUS.

Angus comes from myths of Ireland and Scotland. As McCall Smith so eloquently explains in the introduction to his small novel, "Angus puts us in touch with our dreams - those entities which Auden described so beautifully in his Freud poem as the creatures of the night that are waiting for us, that need our recognition." But Angus is also the God of love, youth and beauty. Because of this, any who see him are likely to lose their heart to him.
McCall Smith decides to place Angus within contemporary Scotland. The book is made up of interconnecting stories of people that, in some way, all need to be closer to their dreams. At times, the figure of Angus may seem slightly elusive in certain stories, but ultimately they all have a common thread - that of life being the pursuit of dreams.
Personally, I enjoyed the final chapter, "I dream of you", the most. Here McCall Smith begins with Angus, the God of love who has women throwing themselves at him and yet he is not able to find one woman who he would want to settle down with. Until he himself begins to dream of a beautiful woman - her beauty is so that he is unable to eat, he only thinks of finding her. Later on in the chapter, we learn of a young woman who discovers her husband has had an affair. After leaving him, she begins to put her life back together by seeing a therpaist who encourages her to examine her dreams.

As a short, quiet read, this book serves quite well. Although there were moments of pure delight, it did not manage to enthrall me as I had hoped it would. Dreams are such mysterious things; in a sense they can be the closest thing to magic we shall encounter within our lives, and I hoped this would have been reflected within the writing. Although the final chapter was filled with magic for me, it was too little too late.
For another small novel about following your dreams, I would recommend Paulo Coelho's THE ALCHEMIST.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spans Myth and Reality from Yesterday to Today, 3 Jun 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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I find Alexander McCall Smith's stories about Africa and her people to be fascinating. I wondered what his story-telling gift would make of the Celtic god of dreams. The structure surprised me, as the stories moved back and forth between the mythical God and the role of dreams in real life. On occasion, the connections between the stories were wrought with almost sublime irony and meaning. My favorite story in the book is I Dream of You which connects past and present, myth and reality in a most enjoyable way and describes the role that dream therapy can play in helping us.

The sentences in the book often sparkle with wit and wisdom that will leave you thinking about their wider meaning, rather merely wanting to continue reading the story: "They shouted to one another, words of encouragement, words of dismay at missed chances, urging others to run faster, to outwit the other group." That sentence has more imagination, meat, and insight in it than many novels that I read.

I found that the book was overly tied to the myth of Angus, the god. Mr. McCall Smith is much better with writing about people than writing about gods. With a shift in emphasis toward the current world, this would have been an outstanding, five-star book. As it is, the "current world" sections are terrific.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Myth is a cloud based upon a shadow based upon the movement of the breeze.', 16 May 2010
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
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Angus, we are told, is the Celtic god of dreams. He is the son of the warlike Dagda and of a water spirit called Boann. If he is the right mood, he might grant you a sight of your true love in a dream; you might even fall in love with him but it won't be reciprocated. Angus is far too busy making mischief: stealing the palace of the gods from Dagda and turning his enemies into pigs. Until one day he is trapped in his own romantic games, and transforms into a swan to be with the woman he loves.

Against this retelling of an ancient myth, part of an oral tradition, are a series of short stories set in 20th century Scotland. Angus's troubled alter ego searches for his real family, and there's a psychotherapist who helps people to understand their dreams. These stories become a modern version of Angus, for in myths, anything is possible.

In Celtic mythology, Angus has a number of roles. He is at his best both as trickster and dream-giver in this book. I read this in one sitting and enjoyed the journey.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "When I am drowsy, when I am ready for rest; Will he come to me, Dream Angus?", 20 Dec 2009
By 
Sam Woodward (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dream Angus (Slipcased) (Hardcover)
Dream Angus is the Celtic God of dreams. As love is the providence of dreams, Angus breaks & mends hearts wherever he roams; according to the author, "he represents the intense, passionate love we experience when we are young but which we might still try to remember as age creeps up." But love can be cruel & while often compassionate (especially to pigs) Angus has a dark side as well...

Every other chapter retells an ancient story about Angus himself, while the ones in between tell of ordinary mortals affected by Angus in modern-day Scotland, showing how their lives correlate with the ancient stories preceding them. This is an effective structure for showing the relevance of the myths today but for the most parts, I did not find the stories to be particularly engaging. While some were rather touching, I could not relate to the people & situations in most of them, plus Angus himself was utterly unfathomable on any level beyond the most superficial. This was disappointing because surely myths should convey universal truths which apply to us all? I was also expecting a little more depth, such as that displayed by the other books in Canongates' Myth series which I had previously read.

The subject-matter reminded me of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman but there was none of Gaiman's subtlety & daring, and restricting the location to Scotland meant there was none of his creativity either. On the whole, Dream Angus was an enjoyable read but the lightest of Canongates' myths series with much less to say than Weight or The Penelopiad. A nice read but not a particularly exciting or memorable one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a little gem, 29 Oct 2012
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mccall's intelligence and generosity of spirit shines through as ever in this enchanting and though-provoking gem, possible one of the best things he's written
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dream Angus, By Alex McCall Smith, 12 Aug 2012
By 
Maia Russell (Australia) - See all my reviews
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Judging by the photo of Alec McCall Smith on the Dust jacket of this book, this is an earlier work than his acclaimed Scotland Street series. I didnt find it so rewarding, or as interesting. It is about the Celtic Mythological figure, "Dream Angus", who in legend, visits children and adults alike to give them the gift of lovely and imaginative dreams. A bit like the Sandman, with a Celtic twist. I think it may have beena good idea to start the work with the famous Lullaby about Dream Angus, but he didnt do this.
I found some of the stories to be dull, they did not, in my opinion, have McCall Smiths usual trademark quirkiness and charm . It wasnt a book which "grabbed me", in fact I found it difficult to finish it.Only my opinion, however, others may beg to differ.Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dream Angus, 17 July 2012
The re-telling of an old Celtic myth, I'm still unsure what exactly I thought of this.

Combining (literally chapter by chapter) the story that is Angus (God of dreams and love) with a set of short contemporary stories each of which somehow connects with the previous, I'm just not too sure how well, if at all, this worked.

A short read (only 173 pages) my first problem with the book being that the author didn't quite seem to know at which age to aim the book, the mythical elements seemingly aimed at a much younger audience than the dreaming elements of the story.

Typed less than 24 hours after having finished the book, my second issue being that, though peopled with relatively few characters, apart from Angus and his birth parents I'm at a complete loss as to naming a single one of them - never a good sign I feel.

Not what you could call a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith, I've only ever enjoyed one of his books, The 2½ Pillars Of Wisdom, I still expected more from this.

Dream Angus ; The Celtic God of Dreams
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Dream Angus (Slipcased)
Dream Angus (Slipcased) by Alexander McCall Smith (Hardcover - 5 Oct 2006)
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