Courtney's Reviews > The Lost Books of the Odyssey

The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
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's review
Jan 11, 2011

really liked it

"The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel" begins with a lie. Its title.

Before I uncovered the title's lie, I had to get over the shock of the first sentence. I'm a bit of an "Odyssey" junkie, and I expected "Sing, O Muse," or "Sing in me, Muse," or some other translated variation on the original. Instead Zachary Mason's opening is crisp, modern, maybe a little playful.

"Odysseus comes back to Ithaca in a little boat on a clear day. The familiarity of the east face of the island seems absurd-bemused, he runs a tricky rip current he has not thought about in fifteen years and lands by the mouth of a creek where he swam as a boy."

Now, to the lies hidden in the title. First, this is not a novel. It's a collection of short stories. Second, most of these stories aren't believable as lost books of "The Odyssey." They all involve Odysseus, but some are set during the Trojan War - the era of "The Iliad." Others mirror canonical stories from "The Odyssey" while subverting or contradicting them.

I love how these stories bring new life to old myths, re-imagining and reinventing them in the first and third person.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ginny (new)

Ginny An "Odyssey" junkie, eh? Have you read "Ulysses"?

Courtney Two years later I notice this comment. Nope, never read "Ulysses." I enjoyed "Portrait of the Artist," but I'm kind of scared of Joyce's more challenging works. Maybe some day.

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