The Suitors
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The Suitors

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  99 ratings  ·  29 reviews

This audacious reimagining of The Odyssey finds Penny home alone while Payne, a modern-day Odysseus, gallivants around the world on battleships and attack helicopters, waging wars of conquest. A drinking, drugging crew of ne’er-do-well squatters surrounds Penny, eager for her attention. Even their most eyebrow-raising exploits can’t distract her, though, as she angrily pin...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Counterpoint
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(showing 1-30 of 247)
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not your mother's love story. unless she is the most disturbed mother on the block...

i can do better than that. this book is marvelous. i can see a lot of people didn't like it very much here on, and that's a shame because i feel so strongly for this book. it (the book) keeps saying it is not a love story, but i think it is, to steal from that famous lolita review, "the only convincing love story of our time"... true, it opens with a scene of such unbelievable carnage that it is cl...more
I'm putting this on the new-new-new-thing shelf, even though it's not that new, because it is similar to all these new-new types of books happening now, which if I was more into theory or had gotten a Master's, I'd probably know the proper pedantic terms for. The point is, it's written fairly self-consciously, there are scattered meta bits and winks at the audience, it's clear Ben Ehrenreich is very smart and wants this book to be very unusual. And it absolutely is! But although I've got an extr...more
Starts off so strong, but somewhere in the second half of the book some of the momentum disappears from the book. The writing itself is quite good, just the focus seems to get lost somewhere in the authors attempt to return back to the start of the book. I'm looking forward to giving this author another chance.
Sep 13, 2011 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of epic journeys and of lyrical poetry that takes time to read and process.
Recommended to Kate by: karen
A wonderful, imaginative, and lyrically masterful, modern retelling of one of my favorite epic journeys of all times: The Odyssey.

My favorite character in this story was Penny. She was the most interesting and human character this book had to offer. She has flaws, she doesn't wait around forever for Payne to return, and she is most certainly her own person. She's a demanding female presence that I could really relate to. For this alone I would of given this book 3 stars.

However, it's the lyrici...more
Justin Evans
I seem to have a minority opinion on this one--a lot of people say that they love the opening chapters, which are 'lyrical' and 'searing' and 'poetic,' but dislike the middle chapters which are 'gimmicky' and, for want of a better word, soulless. And then the last chapters pick up again.

I had exactly the opposite experience. The opening chapters read like the cheesiest possible American Literary Novel, in which two lower-class people fall in love for no very obvious reason, except that they bot...more
Brent Legault
Feb 20, 2011 Brent Legault rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fakes, fakey-fakes
This book got under my skin in the way that a TB test gets under the skin. It made my reading bone all red and inflamed. (That sounded nastier than I meant it to sound.) I have a peeve against novels and stories that are plagued with too many, well, characters. That is, characters that are so obviously mugging for the camera, acting like characters, padding out their resumes with quirks, making nuisances out of themselves.

Too bad. I like Ehrenreich's articles, at least the few I've read in The...more
First, I'll add my voice to the chorus: Goodreads should include half-star ratings.

'Cause this is a 3.5-star book, a melancholy but zippy stab at the Odyssey. The prose and some of the vignettes remind me of Donald Barthelme and Donald Antrim (particularly The Hundred Brothers), and I like Ehrenreich's style/sensibility.
So, it's interesting. Worth a read. But... it's got no guts to it. I mean, actually lots of people die, so there's plenty of guts. By guts I mean... feeling? I mean raison d'etre apart from just messin' around with words? Which is great, of course, and he writes a damn good sentence. But... shouldn't there be something more?
The book starts fairly strong, with an original narrator and some great lines/setups. Then it nosedives into trying to be even edgier but 1) totally fails 2) loses the plot 3) flattens the characters 4) is boring.
"In this fresh, frenzied, and fantastical re-imagining of The Odyssey…” Penny and Payne are the star crossed lovers; the suitors are a group of strange individuals that worship Penny. it is peculiar and bizarre as written by the book jacket writer, and I rushed through it, thinking there was something more that could be there but wasn’t. the first chapter was gory and icky; the second was good. chapter 2 is entitled, “Starting Over or Before the Collapse of the State or Penny and Payne: Competin...more
Homer’s The Odyssey has been re-imagined as a bitter reel of love and hate between Payne and Penny, stand-ins for Ulysses and his long-suffering, patient wife Penelope. Set in modern times, Penny’s suitors are a rag-tag bunch of drifters, wastrels, substance abusers and low-lifes. The one thing that unites them is a fascination with the green-eyed Penny, a fascination that proves as deadly as it is mesmerizing.

Passionate, blunt, abrasive and occasionally incoherent with longing, frustration and...more
I wanted so much to like this book, because its premise was so ambitious; however, I just didn't feel that Ehrenreich was up to the task he set for himself. For one thing, even something loosely based on The Odyssey should be rich with allusion, and this... wasn't. It didn't seem aware, in fact, of any real tradition. Instead, Ehrenreich relies on verbal gymnastics and countless gimmicks--not the least of which is a sort of gratuitous griminess--to propel the narrative. Throughout the novel, he...more
I've been wanting to read this novel since I read a short story by Ehrenreich in McSweeneys about an odd couple meeting in an aquarium in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Although it's far from my idea of the perfect novel and I can see how it might be construed as pretentious, I think Ehrenreich has a very unique, and poetic voice. I love the way this book and the short story I read seem to teeter somewhere between a surreal nightmare, a daydream, and everyday reality. It's not for everyone, but i...more
I was really disappointed by this novel. I heard of Ben Ehrenreich in the 2004 Best Nonrequired Reading from his story "What You Eat," which was instantly one of my favorites. I was waiting for his first novel, which I bought in hardcover once i came out - something I really do instead of waiting for the paperback. The story never went anywhere. I spent the entire length of the book trying to figure out who the characters were. It was more of a writing experiment than a well-written novel.
Robert Wechsler
This is a novel whose writing stands far above its plot and characters. What really made this novel for me was that the author̕s self-control when it came to his nearly grotesque characters. Also, his games are not played at the reader̕s expense; we play along, and enjoy the novel as much as the author seems to. But beneath the games is a deep sadness, a very dark view of human nature. The lightness of Ehrenreich's prose in the darkness of his vision makes a nice combination.
After an American Literary institution (Delillo's 'Libra') and a best selling populist (Douglas Preston's 'Monster...') both fail to catch my interest, I'm hoping Ehrenrich's Odyssey inspired debut will do something for me...

Ehrenreich shows promise. I'll be on the lookout for his next novel. This debut's scope perhaps overshadowed the execution.
I loved the strangeness of the whole story, yet with very familiar elements that made it somehow easy to follow. It gets a little frustrating towards the end, but the writing is great, and it keeps you going to see what happens... or how it gets to the end it announces from the beginning of the book. Looking forward to more from him.
Sarah Messick-Milone
I wish I could give negative stars...that's how much I didn't like this book. I gave it a good shot reading all the way to page 136 (almost half way I think) and I couldn't take it anymore. Violent, preachy, and just plain annoying. Magical realism at it's absolute worst. Now I've got to go read The Odyssey just to feel better.
Not sure. Liked bits of it and ignoring the Odyssey theme from the journey standpoint to the waiting standpoint. Have decided i'm not a big fan of violence in movies or books. (who is really a "fan" of it though?) Needless to say, it puts me off.
I am in love with the way this book was written. The words, the author's voice, everything. It's a slightly off kilter, punk retelling of the Odyssey, which is nice, but if the phone book was written by this guy, I would be in love with it too.
A bit gimmicky I thought. More of a flourishy show-off than a good story. The characters were too...character-y to actually like. But then, it's not as if The Odyssey is full of warmth.
Very wittily written, a really cool intake on the Odyssey-concept.

The ending was a little depressing, but I guess we could've all seen that one coming.
Sometimes you read a book not because of the plot but because of how beautiful it is written. This is that.
the sadly over-looked book of 2006. white trash odyssey. my sister would love it.
This has got to be one of my most favorite books of all time!!
Amy Grace
An interesting telling of the Penelope side of the story.
i loved this book so much and recommend it to everyone.
Jul 04, 2007 erin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fabulists/Greek tragedians
This book was wild. It usually made my head spin.
really enjoyed it.
bookmouse marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2014
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Ben Ehrenreich is an award-winning journalist and fiction writer. His fiction has been published in McSweeney's, Bomb, and Black Clock, among other publications. His novel, The Suitors, was published by Counterpoint in 2006 and received widespread critical attention. In 2011 City Lights Publishers brought out his novel Ether.
More about Ben Ehrenreich...
Ether Three Short Stories of Love and Other Creatures of the Deep Los Angeles Review of Books Issue 1 Drip, Jordan: Israel's Water War with Palestine Animal Shelter 2

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