The Song of Achilles
I had to go to Fresno again yesterday for a meeting. Luckily, I didn’t have to drive this time. Also luckily, this was the book I chose to take with me. And I finished it just as we were pulling back up to my car…perfect timing!
I loved this book. So far, it’s one of my favorites for the year. Here’s why:
First, the cover. I just have to gush. I think it’s adorable. Maybe not quite the reaction they were going for, but it’s a large part of why I bought the book. And okay, so it’s supposed to be a bronze helmet, and the bronzey part is nice and shiny, but to me it looks like two little cartoon legs and feet that have kicked it. I don’t know why I find that adorable, but I do.
Second, the writing. It’s dreamy. Seriously. This is a beautifully told story, and the author made it so easy for me to plop myself down in ancient Greece and hang with the guys. I think Miller managed to pull off that tricky thing about telling an ancient story with modern language. Not that they’re all running around calling each other bro, but it’s not all stilted and formal, either. Like I said, it’s dreamy. Which probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone but me. But it makes perfect sense to me, so that’s what I’m going with.
Third, the story. It’s a tender love story between two guys. Not quite what you expected, eh? I read The Odyssey last year, and while I enjoyed the heck out of it, I’ll admit that copy of The Iliad is still sitting on the shelf taunting me. I think I’m afraid it won’t be as entertaining or easily understood. But now I feel like I don’t have to read it! And like the cover, that’s probably not the intent at all, but I’m not a fan of war stories and rumor has it (at least the rumor that my mind made up), The Iliad’s got a lot of war. So does The Song of Solomon, because, hello, that’s kinda Achilles’s gig. But it’s not all “and then Tom slew Dick and then Harry slew Tom,” etc. There’s family dynamics and awkward childhood years and banishment and a centaur and love and vengeful mothers and vengeful gods and even some cross-dressing. All of which is drawn from the various interpretations of Achilles’s story that have come down through the ages.
And have I mentioned the cover? And the writing? And the story?
Seriously, people. I loved, loved, loved this book. It’s a re-imagining of Achilles’s life, as told from the point of view of Patroclus, his close companion (and in this story, his lover). There’s plenty to think on, and the more I think on it, the more I love it.