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The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel by…

The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Zachary Mason

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7082920,001 (4.08)81
Title:The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel
Authors:Zachary Mason
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2010), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Read, Read but unowned

Work details

The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason (2010)

  1. 61
    The Odyssey by Homer (slickdpdx)
  2. 20
    Ransom by David Malouf (jbvm)
  3. 10
    Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Like The Lost Books Of The Odyssey, Sum uses very short pieces to explore different facets of the same idea - in this case, the afterlife.
  4. 10
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (alalba, jeanned)
    alalba: Both books offer alternative versions of the Odyssey.
  5. 00
    Siegfried und Krimhild by Jürgen Lodemann (spiphany)

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» See also 81 mentions

English (28)  French (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This is described as a novel, but to me it was more like 44 short riffs on the stories of Odysseus, alternatives to the versions told by Homer. My knowledge of Odysseus is limited to reading [b:Circe|35959740|Circe|Madeline Miller|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1508879575s/35959740.jpg|53043399] and the Googling it inspired, so I may be missing some clever allusions, but I still enjoyed them - at first quite a bit, then dwindling over time and I stopped at #23. Not that the stories decreased in quality for me, but maybe there were just too many of them to hold my interest. The writing was beautiful though. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
A novel that imagines there are lost fragments of Homer's Odyssey and gives us a taste of what those may have been. It reads like a love song to the Odyssey, honestly, and Mason does an excellent job writing down his imaginings into bits and pieces of what could have been. Beautifully creative, gorgeously written. Definitely recommended. ( )
  scaifea | Oct 8, 2018 |
I loved this. What if there were other elements to the Odyssey that didn't make it into the text we know. What if Odysseus was a coward? Penelope remarried? Or what if Odysseus never made it back to Ithaca? What if Athena proposed to Odysseus? What would he say? Each chapter is its own separate story and taken together they are a lovely meditation on a well-known text. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason is one of the more fascinating books to come out recently. Subtitled “a novel,” the book is better treated as a series of explorations into the hidden sub-strata of Homer’s original Iliad and Odyssey. Sometimes these are counterfactuals, sometimes these are sketches of other details, and yet others recombine elements in very interesting ways. The cumulative effect strangely highlights how much the elements of Homer’s epics have wormed their way into our modern psyche, illustrates what is still strange about these old works of art.

The most poignant and affecting parts of the book, for me, are the recurrences again and again of the strange link between Odysseus and Athena. They’re of two separate worlds - doomed to forever remain at arm’s length - yet deeply kindred spirits, in ways that only become apparent after reading dozens of Mason’s tales. What seem at first to be formal exercises become feats of empathy and imagination, and the book practically begs to be read in a single sitting.

Very recommended, especially if you’re interested in the originals or Jorge Luis Borges. ( )
1 vote gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
Great book. Like a master jazz musician riffing on a theme. Didn't try to replace or modernize the Odyssey, but filled in gaps and told alternative versions. I felt like I was sitting in front of fire on a little Greek greek island while a master storyteller wove his tales. ( )
  bpagano | Oct 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Yet in The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason has achieved something remarkable. He's written a first novel that is not just vibrantly original but also an insightful commentary on Homer's epic and its lasting hold on our imagination.
added by jlelliott | editSlate, John Swansberg (Feb 18, 2010)
"Mr. Mason's clean and engaging prose ensures that his variations on the Odyssey never feel like sterile experiments."
In “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” Mr. Mason — who is identified on the book jacket as a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, as well as a finalist for the 2009 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, given to writers under 35 — 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, to my surprise, a wonderful book. I had expected it to be rather preening, and probably thin. But it is intelligent, absorbing, wonderfully written, and perhaps the most revelatory and brilliant prose encounter with Homer since James Joyce.

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Odysseus comes back to Ithaca in a little boat on a clear day.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Odysseus, lost 
in his story. Ithaca?
Penelope? Home?            [yalliejane]

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374192154, Hardcover)


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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:00 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A brilliant and beguiling reimagining of Homer's classic story about the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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