The Meat Tree
A dangerous tale of desire, DNA, incest and flowers plays out within the wreckage of an ancient spaceship in The Meat Tree: an absorbing retelling of one of the best-known Welsh myths by prize-winning writer and poet, Gwyneth Lewis.
An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship's crew from its antiquated virtual reality game system, but their empirical approach falters as the story tangles with their own imagination.
By imposing a distance of another 200 years and millions of light years between the reader and the medieval myth, Gwyneth Lewis brings the magical tale of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, closer than ever before: maybe uncomfortably so.
After all, what man has any idea how sap burns in the veins of a woman?
Praise for The Meat Tree
"Seren's series of new stories inspired by the Mabinogion may be the greatest service to the Welsh national epic since Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of the medieval folk tales in the mid-19th century."
"Gwyneth Lewis... provides a satisfyingly bizarre context for a narrative about an unfaithful woman made of flowers who turns into an owl, while Lewis's inspector observes events from a hilariously jobs-worth perspective: 'I'm an experienced enough traveler to know that you lose all dignity on a space trip. But that's usually to do with toilet matters, not being banished to a forest with your student, turned into an animal and forced to reproduce.'"
Alfred Hickling, Guardian
Praise for The Meat Tree
"The bar is set high but The Meat Tree, Gwyneth Lewis's gripping and intelligent exploration of the fourth branch of the Mabinogi, Blodeuwedd's tale, does not disappoint."
"Gwyneth Lewis's astute handling to time... enables her to combine the archetypal themes of myth with concerns that preoccupy our twenty-first century consciousness. Power, morality, man and nature, gender relations, art and reality, and above all, notions of separation and exile, heritage and loss, are refracted through the prism of a spatially and temporally distant future, constantly in motion against both our own present and the mythic Blodeuwedd past. These temporal shifts are matched by Lewis's fearless mixing of the modes of poetry, prose and drama in her quest to conjure a world that will resonate long after the tale has ended, in the reader's mind."
"The successful recreation of myth requires a wiliness that exceeds that of the original mythmakers, and Lewis patiently and skillfully demonstrates that willingness in presenting to her readers 'the battle between meat and magic, between body and imagination.'"
"'What kind of being does a virtual world create?' asks Gwyneth Lewis's Campion. 'If two negatives make a positive, then can two virutals make an actual? Have we just conjured up a person who's real? Or one who is death?' Such thoughtful probing of existential and artistic issues shows a significant respect for the challenge that the Seren project presents to its writers."
Times Literary Supplement