The Greek Tragedy Trifecta

Hello, hello, readers! It’s been a while since I posted! Hope you’ve all been well!

The good news is I’m finally done my second draft of my Boyband WIP, which means I can finally concentrate on reading good books and telling you all about them.

The first thing about this post? I’m not actually talking about Greek Tragedies i.e. plays that have specific plots and characters that define it as its own genre. Nah. I’m talking about three modern books about Greek mythology that made me weep. In public. Repeatedly. (Because, of course, we are back to making this blog all about me, lmao.)

The first, of course, is Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerHere’s the rundown of the Achilles story: protective nymph mom doesn’t want her son to die, but if he must she insists he goes out in a blaze of glory. Smol, sweet killing machine agrees. Smoller, sweeter ray of sunshine kinda just wants some domestic bliss, thanks. And then everything goes to shit and everyone dies. Thanks a lot, Paris. My friend Angel has said multiple times of this book that even though you know what happens, you can help but read on and hope for something better. Interestingly, Miller chose Patroclus to narrate the story, when it is his death that spurs Achilles to his own death. I was very curious to see how she continues to tell Achilles’ story when his narrator dies before he does and she surprised me. In a good way. In a here’s-a-hot-water-bottle-for-the-cramps-I-caused kind of way. Like, Miller’s prose will kick the shit out of you, but it’ll also help you up, dress your wounds, give you some silks, and send you on your way. I love this beautiful, heartbreak of a book and I need more people to read and love it with me, please.

The second book I read is Madeline Miller’s Circe, because how could I just stop there at TSOA?!

Circe by Madeline MillerMiller’s Circe is a thing of beauty. Her prose, while strong in TSOA, is stronger still in her second book. Her characters, far more complex. Her story, so perfectly paced. There isn’t a whole lot that is known about Circe herself, so presumably Miller had to work harder on plotting and character development in a way she didn’t have to with Achilles, and boy does she nail it. This book is one of my favourite things I’ve read this year, possibly contending for top three. I cannot recommend it enough. It is also a strange mix of pain and pleasure to hear the names of characters from TSOA come up in Circe. Odysseus’ characterization, especially, surprised me. In what way? You’ll have to read to find out. And then please, for the love of all gods, talk to me about it.

The final book I’m recommending, especially if you liked/are interested in Miller’s books, is Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Emily WilsonFor those who don’t know, chronologically, takes place after the siege of Troy and the events of TSOA. I have never read anything related to Homer in university. I don’t know how that happened. It just did. So this is my first time reading anything of the sort and you guys, I blazed through it. I never thought I’d binge a classic, but the day has come. It happened.* There are two notes that preface the epic. One is a translator’s note and the other is an introduction to the world of Odysseus. If it sounds dry, I am here to tell you that Wilson’s writing is magnetic from page one and by the end of the notes, I was deeply in awe of Wilson–who, by the way, is the first ever woman to translate The Odyssey. The translation itself is easy to follow and you can see how it is meant to be a poem performed. Wilson has no interest in masking Odysseus’ flaws and so you truly do get–as requested in the first stanza of the epic–the story of a complicated man. Highly, highly recommended.

Now, I’m waiting on Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls. Until then, if anyone has any recommendations that are comparable to these titles, do let me know in the comments! I’m especially curious to see what YA authors have done with Greek myths. 🙂

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*I had such a huge book hangover that I watched Troy: Fall of a City. Except for the actors who played Odysseus, Achilles, and Patroclus, it was … pretty bad? The subtitle should have been Please Stop With The Paris/Helen Smut Fic And Show Me How Paris (An Absolute Moron) Has Any Proficiency In Archery, Let Alone Enough To Kill My Trash Son Achilles, Please And Thanks.