Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book recommendation: The Lost Books of the Odyssey

I highly recommend Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel.

Mason uses the conceit that the book is a translation of texts that didn't make it into the accepted final version of the canon.  The supposed translations are fantastic riffs that re-think the familiar tales.

In one chapter, Polyphemus, the blinded Cyclops, invents tales about the band of men who blinded him and reveals himself as, effectively, Homer.

In another, Agamemnon sends the order out to assassinate Odysseus.  But in bureaucratic bumbling, the order gets passed on to Odysseus himself, who returns a crafty message back to the king.

The novel is in prose, but captures the feeling of the original language.  The twists and turns make a delightful use of the epic.  I was sorry to reach the end.

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