A BRILLIANT AND BEGUILING REIMAGINING OF ONE OF OUR GREATEST MYTHS BY A GIFTED YOUNG WRITER
Zachary Mason’s brilliant and beguiling debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, reimagines Homer’s classic story of the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. With brilliant prose, terrific imagination, and dazzling literary skill, Mason creates alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions of Homer’s original that taken together open up this classic Greek myth to endless reverberating interpretations. The Lost Books of the Odyssey is punctuated with great wit, beauty, and playfulness; it is a daring literary page-turner that marks the emergence of an extraordinary new talent.
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ZACHARY MASON is a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence. He was a finalist for the 2008 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. He lives in California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A SAD REVELATION
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. All his impatience leaves him and he sits under an oak he remembers whose branches overhang the water, good for diving. Twenty years have gone by, he reflects, what are a few more minutes. An hour passes in silence and it occurs to him that he is tired and might as well go home, so he picks up his sword and walks toward his house, sure that whatever obstacles await will be minor compared to what he has been through.
The house looks much as it did when he left. He notices that the sheep byre’s gate has been mended. A rivulet of smoke rises from the chimney. He steals lightly in, hand on sword, thinking how ridiculous it would be to come so far and lose everything in a moment of carelessness.
Within, Penelope is at her loom and an old man drowses by the fire. Odysseus stands in the doorway for a while before Penelope notices him and shrieks, dropping her shuttle and before she draws another breath running and embracing him, kissing him and wetting his cheeks with her tears. Welcome home, she says into his chest.
The man by the fire stands up looking possessive and pitifully concerned and in an intuitive flash Odysseus knows that this is her husband. The idea is absurd—the man is soft, grey and heavy, no hero and never was one, would not have lasted an hour in the blinding glare before the walls of Troy. He looks at Penelope to confirm his guess and notices how she has aged—her hips wider, her hair more grey than not, the skin around her eyes traced with fine wrinkles. Without the eyes of home-coming there is only an echo of her beauty. She steps back from him and traces a deep scar on his shoulder and her wonder and the old man’s fear become a mirror—he realizes that with his blackened skin, tangled beard and body lean and hard from years of war he looks like a reaver, a revenant, a wolf of the sea.
Willfully composed, Penelope puts her hand on his shoulder and says that he is most welcome in his hall. Then her face collapses into tears and she says she did not think he was coming back, had been told he was dead these last eight years, had given up a long time ago, had waited as long as she could, longer than anyone thought was right.
He had spent the days of his exile imagining different homecoming scenarios but it had never occurred to him that she would just give up. The town deserted, his house overrun by violent suitors, Penelope dying, or dead and burned, but not this. "Such a long trip," he thinks, "and so many places I could have stayed along the way."
Then, mercifully, revelation comes. He realizes that this is not Penelope. This is not his hall. This is not Ithaca—what he sees before him is a vengeful illusion, the deception of some malevolent god. The real Ithaca is elsewhere, somewhere on the sea- roads, hidden. Giddy, Odysseus turns and flees the tormenting shadows.2
Excerpted from The Lost Books of The Odyssey by Zachary Mason.
Copyright © 2007, 2010 by Zachary Mason.
Published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Second Impression. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0374192154
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0374192154
Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110374192154
Book Description Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition... New York: FSG . First edition. First printing. Hardbound. New/New. A pristine unread copy, very fine in all respects. SIGNED AND DATED BY AUTHOR on title page in the month of publication. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. Shipped in sturdy box. Smoke-free shop. Purchased new and opened only for author to sign. A prior, slightly longer edition of the novel was published by a small press in a trade paperback edition, in 2007. Starcherone Books, of Buffalo, New York, the original publisher, awarded Mason first prize for this book in a writing competition. Jonathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux noticed the book and worked with Mason to craft a second edition of the book, reducing its length and making other modifications to the content. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 0310MF-42