The Lost Books of the Odyssey
You should go read The Lost Books of the Odyssey. You’ll be glad you did.
I wrote this review in April of 2008, and failed to post it. Part of my reason is that I have little patience for, and less to say about most experimental fiction. I am in this somewhat like a luddite, unwilling to tolerate experiments which ought to have been kept confined to a laboratory. And so, knowing that this book won a prize worried me greatly, but for reasons which I’ll get to in a moment, I persevered, and I’m glad that I did.
The “lost books” consist of very short stories, usually of a few pages or so. The context, is of course, the Odyssey, and the actions of its heros and villians.
It falls into that class of writing which is simply a delight to read. The stories are beautifully crafted, surprising and casting new lights on old stories.
The richness and character of the writing is exceptional and engaging, all the more so for the origin and nature of the work. As Zachary Mason explains in the introduction, “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” were in fact lost and recovered, in a feat perhaps nearly as impressive for its cryptanalytic acumen as for its literary importance.
It is entirely worth reading, and since I first read it, it has been winning substantial literary prizes, and the New York Times calls it “dazzling.”
Finally, I should mention that Zachary and I were roommates at Miss Hall’s School for Precocious Youth in Arkham, Mass. I would like to offer my most sincere apologies for anything he remembers.
[Updated, fixed a spelling error]