Friday, August 18, 2017
Bull, written by David Elliott. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2017. $24.99 ages 14 and up
I find less attractive
Yeah, it's shitty
But why hasn't the boy learned
That life isn't fair?
It's true everywhere:
Fathers often destroy their sons.
Who do you think invented guns?"
Do you want to introduce your students or your own teenage kids to Greek mythology in an enticing and irrepressible way? Find a copy of Bull, read it, and then share it with them!
It is also a book for anyone who loves mythology, irreverence, breathtaking writing, and poetry. David Elliott tells his story in voices dramatic and poetic - Poseidon, Minos, Daedalus, Pasiphae, Asterion, and Ariadne. Each is allowed to have a say in their own unique poetic form.
Poseidon proves his mettle, with intimidating perspective and swagger.
"You think a god should be more refined??
... Never belch
Or scratch himself
You don't want a god.
You want a prude."
There is nothing prudish about this book. In reading it, you will learn much about the mythology itself, from a far different perspective than any other you may have read. The connections between characters are strong, hateful, and absolutely compelling. It is bawdy, off-color, and an absolute joy to read. I laughed out loud in places, and gave careful thought in others, and loved every minute spent reading it. I WILL read it again. Just talking about it makes me want to pick it up and do just that. Alas, I have other commitments today!
A cast of characters is helpful for those new to the myth. In an author's note, David Elliott lets his audience know that the elements of the original myth are the same:
"... All of these events you will find in Bull. All else - the characterizations; the relationships between the characters; their attitudes about themselves, their world, and each other; Ariadne's blackmailing of Daedalus; the hole in the labyrinth wall - is, for better or worse, my invention."
He also adds a note about the poetic forms chosen, which I always find so educational.
I want to leave the last word to our narrator, Poseidon.
"I miss the sea!
Crabs and corals
Devoid of complicating morals.
All its saline riches.
I'm going home.