No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, March 31, 2005

#22: The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break -- Steven Sherrill

This wasn't quite what I was expecting, and I think it's a book I admire, rather than one I actually enjoyed reading. Not that it's a bad book, not at all: the prose is clear and understated and unsensational. But it's not a cheerful book: Sherrill is writing about loneliness and failure and poverty, and he does it very effectively. Even at the end there's no more than the hope of a new beginning.

The Minotaur (having struck a deal with 'ashen-faced Theseus') is alive and well, living in a trailer park in North Carolina, working as a chef in a fast-food restaurant. It isn't easy being half-man, half-bull. It isn't easy, either, being a 5000-year-old immortal with a history of devouring virgins: but he doesn't dwell on this. His colleagues call him M, and don't remark on his appearance. Neither, directly, does anyone else: there are a few hints of discrimination, a few hints that he's notably different, but that's it. Which, OK, works well on a surreal level, but is a little jarring.

There's one little element, one side-story, in the book which intrigues me immensely: the indication (though it's never explicitly stated) that there are several other mythological beings living in the southern states. I was especially caught by an allusion to Medusa, and I wish Sherrill would write her story.

I'm glad I read this, and I'm very impressed by it. But I don't think I'd read it again for simple enjoyment.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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