In the shade of a spreading oak tree, I knocked out a couple books this weekend.
The first was The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony. In full disclosure, she is my faculty advisor this semester. It is unlikely she’ll see my blog so I can say without sucking up that it is a remarkable book. She weaves a hilarious, poignant myth of Hungarian history with the life of a mute, crippled midget; the last of his people. Part absurd, part surreal, the narrative honors the humanity, both good and bad, of the character in ways those genres often fail. It even includes an homage to Chekhov. How often do you see that? It is the rare sort of book that makes me put down my pen and think I am not a writer then pick up my pen all the more inspired to try to create something of comparable magnitude.
The second was The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason. Imagining the Odyssey was victim of an overzealous editor, he creates the stories that might have been and offers compelling complexity to the characters we all know from high school lit. Medusa becomes a sad soul longing for visitors. The cyclops is a wronged victim of hostility from guests he welcomed to his home. Odysseus himself is fleshed out as a man with fears and flaws to go with his cleverness and heroics. He is ultimately driven mad by his futile effort to just go home. Through it all, Mason writes in the exact arcane style of the original (at least the “original” as we know it) as if communing with Homer.
Two thumbs up for these books. Read them!
I’m Darren. I write. Sometimes I read.