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No-Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through…

No-Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey

by Scott Huler

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How meta: an odyssey exploring Homer's The Odyssey. Scott Huler has a baby on the way and one last adventure in his soul. Picking up a copy of the epic poem, he connects with it in a way that he didn't when he first read it decades earlier.

He sets off, travelling lightly and cheaply, to visit each of the main stops on Odysseus's troubled journey home. Or at least the places that most closely resemble the mythological places.

Huler sums up the lessons of The Odyssey: the perils of ambition, the emptiness of glory, the value of love, the failure of self-glory, and the importance of family. He learns to fully appreciate the central theme: the greatest adventures of all are the ones that bring us home to those we love.

The book is part travelogue and part critical reading of The Odyssey, with a mix of personal self-realization thrown. To me, the key signal of my enjoyment of this book is that it made we want to blow the dust off the edition of The Odyssey from my college days and really read it this time. ( )
1 vote dougcornelius | Dec 27, 2012 |
Scott Huler recounts the story of his trip around the Mediterranean, following the route of Odysseus. Well, more or less the route of Odysseus, anyway, since nobody can agree on exactly where to locate most of his adventures on a map, or even to what extent it's reasonable to try. But that's all right; geographical accuracy isn't really the point, anyway.

It's a very low-key sort of book. Huler's wanderings are much less full of shipwrecks and man-eating giants than Odysseus', and he doesn't try to exaggerate his experiences to make for a more lively story, but instead realistically portrays the mundanities of 21st century travel, with all its annoyances and disappointments and unexpected little moments of complete happiness. Through it all he is quietly, unpretentiously thoughtful as he contemplates travel, life experiences, and the lessons and insights of the Odyssey. I started off hoping, perhaps, for a somewhat more exciting travel memoir, but in the end was quite satisfied by the journey I was taken on instead. ( )
2 vote bragan | Feb 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140008282X, Hardcover)

When NPR contributor Scott Huler made one more attempt to get through James Joyce’s Ulysses, he had no idea it would launch an obsession with the book’s inspiration: the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey and the lonely homebound journey of its Everyman hero, Odysseus.No-Man’s Lands is Huler’s funny and touching exploration of the life lessons embedded within The Odyssey, a legendary tale of wandering and longing that could be read as a veritable guidebook for middle-aged men everywhere. At age forty-four, with his first child on the way, Huler felt an instant bond with Odysseus, who fought for some twenty years against formidable difficulties to return home to his beloved wife and son. In reading The Odyssey, Huler saw the chance to experience a great vicarious adventure as well as the opportunity to assess the man he had become and embrace the imminent arrival of both middle age and parenthood.But Huler realized that it wasn’t enough to simply read the words on the page—he needed to live Odysseus’s odyssey, to visit the exotic destinations that make Homer’s story so timeless. And so an ambitious pilgrimage was born . . . traveling the entire length of Odysseus’s two-decade journey. In six months.Huler doggedly retraced Odysseus’s every step, from the ancient ruins of Troy to his ultimate destination in Ithaca. On the way, he discovers the Cyclops’s Sicilian cave, visits the land of the dead in Italy, ponders the lotus from a Tunisian resort, and paddles a rented kayak between Scylla and Charybdis and lives to tell the tale. He writes of how and why the lessons of The Odyssey—the perils of ambition, the emptiness of glory, the value of love and family—continue to resonate so deeply with readers thousands of years later. And as he finally closes in on Odysseus’s final destination, he learns to fully appreciate what Homer has been saying all along: the greatest adventures of all are the ones that bring us home to those we love. Part travelogue, part memoir, and part critical reading of the greatest adventure epic ever written, No-Man’s Lands is an extraordinary description of two journeys—one ancient, one contemporary—and reveals what The Odyssey can teach us about being better bosses, better teachers, better parents, and better people.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:48 -0400)

Details the author's efforts to retrace the footsteps of Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca as recorded in "The Odyssey," following the Greek hero on his journey around the Mediterranean to discover why this tale continues to resonate with Western readers.

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