Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It`s all Greek to me

Achilles would like his mortal nemesis, Hector, to know that there are no pacts between lions and men. In fact, he yells that very thing at him right before skewering him with a big, pointy spear. Madeline Miller would like her readers to know that there were, in fact, a lot of  "pacts" between Achilles and his best friend Patroclus with lots of skewering going on there too, nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

Now that I've talked about the homoerotic stuff in the most mature way that I am able, let's talk about the rest of this book. Well, it's the Iliad by Homer. I suppose that's all you need to know unless you think the Homer I'm referring to has the surname Simpson. Miller's twist on that old sod is telling the whole thing from the perspective of the aforementioned Patroclus and putting his relationship with the famous Demigod front and center.

Miller's prose is sparse and just a few extra words away from being an epic poem in it's own right. If her uber-impressive bio on the back page is to be believed, she also knows what she's talking about so rest assured that this is pretty damn faithful to the source material.

The problem is the story itself. We all know how it ends. Unless you are one of those wonderfully optimistic people who watch movies like Titanic and hope for a happy ending, you can see every spear, arrow and God-vengeance plague coming. It probably didn't help that I got all Iliad crazy while reading it and watched Troy for the third time. Reading the last half of the book picturing Brad Pitt slaughtering Trojans does not increase one's enjoyment, believe me.

Bottom line; read it if you just can't get enough big wooden horses and man-love. Skip it if your idea of a good Greek tragedy is too many black olives in your salad.

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