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No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey
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No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  183 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
When NPR contributor Scott Huler made one more attempt to get through James Joyce’s Ulysses, he had no idea it would launch an obsession with the book’s inspiration: the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey and the lonely homebound journey of its Everyman hero, Odysseus.No-Man’s Lands is Huler’s funny and touching exploration of the life lessons embedded within The Odyssey, a le ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Crown (first published 2008)
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Loren
Jan 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-be-sold
I couldn't get through it. It reminded me of Tony Perrottet's travels in the same part of the world, but those books are much more enjoyable. This was a jumble. It begins 12 stops into Huler's retracing of the Odyssey, with him glad that the two pretty stewardesses he meets aren't interested in having sex with him because his second wife is home alone, eight months pregnant, and anticipating his return. Ick. I'm more interested in the Odyssey -- and Mediterranean travel than this guy's midlife i ...more
Ensiform
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
The author, dragged reluctantly into reading Joyce’s Ulysses, discovers that, despite what he'd remembered, he has never read the Homeric epic which inspired it.

Once he begins to finally read the tale, he's fascinated, and eventually embarks on a trip across Turkey, Greece, and Italy in the possible footsteps of the probably mythological hero – while his wife, at home, waits for him, pregnant with her first baby. The parallelism is appealing, and Huler milks it for all it's worth, noting how the
...more
Liska
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is an interesting book of contradictions. On the one hand, it's got an interesting premise, the pull of being a true-life story and a fairly honest one at that, and some awesome/hilarious/awesomely hilarious summaries of most of the stories in the Odyssey. It even made me want to re-read the Odyssey itself. Almost.

But on the other hand, it digresses to random, unnecessary arguments about the merits of various religious systems; and the witty, snappy summations of Odysseus's life give way t
...more
Kit
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
This is the latest offering in Literary Extreme Sports: the author sets out to recreate the journey of Odysseus (and write a book about it). The parts that are essentially a lecture on the Odyssey are really interesting, and left me wishing that the book had been a popular critique/explanation of the Odyssey instead of what it was, which was part travel book, part essay on the Odyssey, and part mid-life crisis. (At least the author mentions at one point that Odysseus probably wouldn't have consi ...more
Allison
Mar 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
I loved the premise of this book. After falling in love with The Odyssey the author traveled to the sites (or places hypothesized to be the present-day sites) journeyed to by Odysseus. And, on top of the great premise, Huler wrote a fantastic travelogue. He incorporated aspects of history, geography, literature, mythology and biography into a well-written, and often humorous, account of his wanderings. However, in the last 20 pages or so the author recounted the birth of his first child (which o ...more
Phair
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
It was a bit better than just OK but suffered from a lack of pictures (he spent a lot of time sketching- we couldn't get to see some of the sketches at least?) The travels are not presented chronologically so that was a bit confusing. He muses a lot about life, philosophy, & the heroic journey. The author laments the coming of the European Union which he feels diminishes the 'adventure' of European travel by blurring the borders. Overall it was interesting. p258-9: "a pilgrim approaches his ...more
John
May 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, library_books
I've been a real fan of the historical footsteps genre lately, and this one is pretty good. I've never read The Odyssey myself, although the teacher in my required Jr High Latin class would read parts to us at the end if class if we behaved; being mostly nerds, we loved the soap-opera aspect of it.
Huler deserves great credit for planning a trip based on a travel story, where the exact locations of events are uncertain. I thought his "analysis" of the plotpoints, with modern parallels, quite funn
...more
Nancy
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is part travlogue, part literary analysis. No one was more glad than I when Scott Huler concluded his tracings of Odysseus' journey as I had tired of his whinning about missing his wife. All in all, the book does have some merit. His background information, retelling of Odysseus' adventures and analysis of Odysseus would be valuable to the student of any age. I could see this being read in conjuction with a study of The Odyssey if it were assigned in parts or as a review for the older ...more
tea_for_two
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
The Odyssey has always been one of my favorite stories and I've studied pre-classical Mediterranean culture, but I'd never thought about the stories from the Odyssey in a geographical context. Huler explains the controversy surrounded Odysseusian geography as well as his reasons for choosing the locations he visited. He also reviews the stories of the Odyssey and the historical controversies surrounding the Trojan War and Homer. An excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed, though it made me nost ...more
Katy
Scott Huler's interest in Homer was rekindled by James Joyce, but rather than read the Irishman's Ulysses, he undertakes a journey of his own following as closely as possible the journey of Homer's hero as he strives to return home to Ithaca. Six months of preparation and research went into Huler's re-creation of Odysseus' journey, and his narrative is both entertaining and informative.
Colin
I picked this one up from the library. A quirky book following Scott Huler's trip around the Mediterranean following the voyages of Odysseus, following his discovery that he had never really read the Odyssey (following a read of Joyce's Ulysses. Part memoir of the journey, part analysis of the Odyssey, it suffers somewhat from the author's scattered retelling of sections of his own journey, but it was a fun and interesting read.
Carolyn Rose
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Often amusing tale that took me to what might have been the places mentioned in the Odyssey and provided larger context for the travels
Cheryl
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once in a while I fall in love with an author of the book I am reading. I don’t know how common that is, and it only happens once every year or so for me. I fell in love with Scott Huler during Defining the Wind, and have been waiting, waiting, waiting for another chance. His other books have been about Nascar, Continental Airlines, and being a Cleveland Browns fan, which shows the depth and breadth of his range as a writer, but did not appeal to me at all. This author is funny and smart and th ...more
Andrew
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
An account written by an American journalist of his visits to the historic sites of Homer's "The Odyssey". It's interesting if you like literary travel books (like Paul Theroux's accounts) -- and this one mixes the story of "The Odyssey" with current places, along with the historic background of the tales from the Trojan War.

This is a good armchair travel book: it will introduce you to some aspect of traveling in the Mediterranean with which you're unfamiliar. It might even spark interest in Mal
...more
Jane
May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A perfect book for anyone who imagines following the story of Odysseus, or any other fictional character, for that matter. This is, at times, very very funny, and it is also really smart about the meaning of The Odyssey. My favorite chapter of this book was about the section of The Odyssey that was my least favorite to read--The Land of the Dead. Huler is so genuine and self-effacing and humorous and plain smart. He really captured me with this book. Wish Marylynne and I could get a book out of ...more
Doug Cornelius
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
How meta: an odyssey exploring Homer's The Odyssey. Scott Huler has a baby on the way and one last adventure in his soul. Picking up a copy of the epic poem, he connects with it in a way that he didn't when he first read it decades earlier.

He sets off, travelling lightly and cheaply, to visit each of the main stops on Odysseus's troubled journey home. Or at least the places that most closely resemble the mythological places.

Huler sums up the lessons of The Odyssey: the perils of ambition, the e
...more
Penny Cipolone
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This marvelous book is the work of a non-classicist. After having claimed for a number of years that the Odyssey (read in middle school) was the book that influenced him the most in his life, he realizes when he picks up a copy that he never really read it. Like most MS'ers, he used Cliff Notes and avoided the assignment. His re-reading of the work leads him, a 41 year old man, to set out to retrace the steps of middle-aged Odysseus returning from the Trojan War. As an added bonus, he leaves his ...more
Christian
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the best travel writing books I've read; does a great job of giving equal time to the travel as he does the basis of his travel (i.e., Homer's Odyssey -- note, not the Simpson's episode). His exploration of the Odyssey was so well done that he pointed out ideas that I had never learned, and I had to read all or part of it 5 times in 3 semesters back in college. Definitely worthwhile to read if you have interest in the Odyssey, or looking for an enjoyable travel book.

Why no fifth star? Two
...more
Tracy
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
First word that comes to mind for this book is meh. While I enjoyed the author's commentary on the Odyssey, I found the book rather self-indulgent. Yes, I do agree that the Odyssey is very much about middle age and the life experiences that make us who we are at mid-life, but I felt that some of the parallels he drew between his own life and travel experiences were just a little too tidy, a little too pat. And frankly, I felt sorry for his wife - just because Odysseus leaves Penelope for a war d ...more
Frederic Pierce
I liked it, but I think it's because I WANTED to like it. I loved the concept: a modern-day traveler setting out to retrace the journey of Odysseus, the Homeric hero. I also really like Huler's writing. It kept me going after I'd reached the book's midpoint and nothing had really happened. I mean, the trip happened, but I felt that the author had to really stretch to make mundane episodes interesting and draw parallels between the lessons he learned and those of his bronze-age hero. There were n ...more
Gary
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a perfect book for me because I'm a big fan of classical Greek literature and last summer I was able to travel with BYU Study Abroad in Italy and Greece. Here Scott Huler tries to follow the possible path of Odysseus on his wanderings through the Mediterranean. Huler includes a lot of interesting information about Homer and the Odyssey but also about the places he visits. In odd ways, his journey starts to parallel the Odyssey. He talks about what Odysseus may have learned from his jour ...more
Jerm
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nonfiction anyone. So, I had the chance years ago to go with a friend of mine either on a trip to Australia, or to the Greek Isles for the Odysseus tour. We chose Australia (My friend had already really made the decision, before I was consulted, not that I complained) but it always made me want to go on my own version of the Odyssey, and now here this guy comes along and does exactly that.

Part travel book, part explanation of the Epic itself, and part
“oh yeah, and here’s what I learned.” Overall
...more
Pat
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book definitely made me want to go back and read The Odyssey even though it was a hard slog the first time. Perhaps I will, but I really don't need to having read Huler's book. Huler takes us on a trip to the Mediterranean in search of the origins of the ports of call of Odysseus' wanderings. In the process, he comes to have a better understanding of the meaning of the Odyssey and of the reason that Odysseus has to make this trip and of the reasons that he, himself, makes his trip. I found ...more
Roberta
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-adventure
Light hearted one man journey following in the path of Odysseue, or at least one of the possib;e paths he may have taken. Made me want to head out for Greece and Turkey immediately. Huler writes well and injects humour into his sage, not riotous belly splitting laughter; more of a checkle. I learned a lot about The Odyssey and especially liked how Huler demonstrates Odyyseus' growth as he travels.
George Dimitrov
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Oh I enjoyed the format completely, a travel journal way of going through the Odyssey. Unfortunately after Ulysses visited this remarkable spots, nothing interesting happened or remained for a tourist to see. I appreciate Huler's attempt at finding moral lessens in every single adventure of Ulysses, however that was not the reason I picked this book and I paid him no attention across these passages.
Melissa
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very worthwhile read: a little bit of classical literature, history, travel writing, and memoir all in one. Makes great comments on the "life lessons" of the Odyssey such as meeting Achilles in Hades and learning that glory/honor wasn't all worth it and living longer to see life and family was. Excited about the first 200 pages, but then I just wanted it to wrap it up at the end otherwise I would have praised the book overall.
Cindy
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love to read travelogues and this was a unique one. I haven't read The Odyssey since high school (and maybe not even then?), but I felt like I was reliving the story through this book. It also inspired me to have an unique "theme" like he did when I travel. It helps you notive/experience things you might not have otherwise.
Andd Becker
The author has vowed never to read ULYSSES by James Joyce; however, he does eventually read the book. In the process, he develops an intense interest in Homer. The result is that he decides to travel the route of Odysseus. He begins his journey where Homer starts.
The book would be excellent reading in a college World Literature course.
Jennifer
Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really, really enjoyed this one, altho at times his honesty made me feel sort of uncomfortable (all the talk about temptation, for some odd reason!)? But he touches on so many things that I am feeling, that I want to do, that for the most part I loved reading it. I especially took the Lotus Eaters episode to heart! Recommended.
Bcoghill Coghill
Apr 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
My friend, Scott recommended this book. It is a travel book because the author is going to Homer's Odyssey locations. But it isn't really it is comments on the Odyssey. And Homer is the greatest and first poet of western civilization. I don't know if he created a huge chunk of western civilzation or recorded it first.
The Odyssey is worthy of commentary and this is a very readable commentary.
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Scott Huler was born in 1959 in Cleveland and raised in that city's eastern suburbs. He graduated from Washington University in 1981; he was made a member of Phi Beta Kappa because of the breadth of his studies, and that breadth has been a signature of his writing work. He has written on everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing, from NASCAR racing to the stealth bomber, for such newspape ...more
“Weeping is the emotion of middle age. Once you get to your forties, no joy fails to remind you of its opposite, or its cost, or those not present to share it; no sorrow fails to get its due. To weep is to be human, to be alive, to have grown up.” 0 likes
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