Lost Cantos of the Ourobouros Caves: Expanded Edition

Lost Cantos of the Ourobouros Caves: Expanded Edition

Lost Cantos of the Ourobouros Caves: Expanded Edition

Lost Cantos of the Ourobouros Caves: Expanded Edition


An enticing collection of tales told in the fabulist and metafiction traditions, Lost Cantos of the Ouroboros Caves embraces a cyclical movement of renewal, like the ancient ouroboros motif itself, in which artfully rendered answers always give rise to perplexing new questions. Maggie Schein's stories introduce medicine men, monks, immortals, witches, seekers, and souls in various stages of their cycles in and out of lived life, as well as the occasional talking animal, all searching for meaning and for connections to one another through storytelling. Each fable is a meditation on love, death, growth, pain, identity, self, spirit, cruelty, beauty, and the natural order, as seen from the perspectives of the primal, the celestial, or the spiritual. Rooted in the archetypes of mythology and philosophy, Schein's lost cantos are stories about the events that make up our lives and our deaths. She makes deft use of familiar forms and universal symbols to explore anew through narrative those questions and experiences that have always vexed us about our confounding existence and the speculative possibilities that abound within and beyond the moral coil. Schein's tales ask us to reconsider what it means to live and to die, to be simultaneously a creature of magic and the mundane, of the extraordinary and the all-too-ordinary. The result is a delicate but potent collection of alluring fables for the modern reader, recalling classical stories and myths of days long past and asking once more the questions that continue to haunt us.

This expanded edition adds three new fables not included in the original edition as well as new illustrations for all eleven stories from artist Jonathan Hannah.


I met Maggie Schein on the day of her birth. I was present in the wait ing room as her mother Martha went into labor with her klutzy, unhelpful father, Bernie, in feckless attendance. Bernie and I had become best friends in Beaufort High School and that friendship continues until this day. One of the luckiest things about that connection is I got to watch Maggie grow up in all her eccentric magic.

Maggie never dressed like other little girls—I was raising three of them down the street, myself. Though she always dressed herself with style and attitude, it was a difficult ensemble to classify. She dressed in materials that looked like they were gathered from dempster-dumpsters located outside of gypsy camps or a wardrobe that fell off a train carrying a traveling circus. There was always a brazenness and comedy in her approach to the world—although I would’ve strangled her with great cheer when, at age eight, she put her new tnly to fiddle with my nose hairs. Though she had a dog and a few cats, Maggie’s heart belonged to her tarantula.

From an early age, Maggie Schein was precocious in strange ways that portended a wild-eyed curiosity and an easy association with genius. But it was not language that held her full attention: She first fell in love with the grace, and the cunning, and the suppleness of the dance. For twelve years she gave up her life for ballet, that stern apprenticeship. I saw a dozen of her dance performances with a pre-professional company in Atlanta, but missed her during the New York years. She made her body lithe and hard as she joined the Feld Ballet/NY and then Hartford Ballet. the phrase “corps de ballet” has always served as one of the most beautiful groupings of words, and Maggie was on her way up when she . . .

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