The ToB, presented by Field Notes, is here!

It's the 2023 Tournament of Books, presented by Field Notes! And it's finals week! Dig in!

Serious Fun

Homer Again

Zachary Mason offers 44 versions of The Odyssey.

Book Cover One might view tinkering with the Homeric epics a foolish endeavor or a brave effort—in any case, it is not a project lacking in ambition. Young Zachary Mason’s debut novel (if that is what this book is), The Lost Books of the Odyssey (FSG), envisions Odysseus’s tale with all manner of alternative iterations (actually, 44 versions).

Apparently the venerable Michiko Kakutani was impressed, as she anointed Mason’s opus a “dazzling debut novel”:
Mr. Mason has… written a series of jazzy, post-modernist variations on The Odyssey, and in doing so he’s created an ingeniously Borgesian novel that’s witty, playful, moving and tirelessly inventive.

This is a book that not only addresses the themes of Homer’s classic—the dangers of pride, the protean nature of identity, the tryst between fate and free will—but also poses new questions… about art and originality and the nature of storytelling. It’s a novel that makes us rethink the oral tradition of entertainment that thrived in Homer’s day… while at the same time making us contemplate the other art inspired by The Odyssey, from Joyce’s Ulysses to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Charles Frazier‘s Cold Mountain.
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