Amazon Story Bones

Ellen Frye, Author
Ellen Frye, Author Spinsters Ink Books $10.95 (193p) ISBN 978-1-883523-00-8
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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Reminding readers that ``who holds the pen shapes history,'' Frye ( The Other Sappho ) imagines a past in which Amazons were not the single-breasted, man-hating, male progeny-killing sisters described by Greek men. Her revisionist novel, really a chain of loosely linked stories, takes place 20 years after the fall of Troy. A young girl named Iphito flees an arranged marriage to live with her Amazon grandmother in a mountain cave. The old woman and her (female) mate reconstruct their past for the girl, explaining how Amazons came into being when mother goddess Thetis saw ``upstart'' male gods like Zeus--who called himself father of the universe ``as if fatherhood had to do with the work of creation''--invading the spirit of the land and decided to create a new race living apart from men. Familiar myths appear here with unfamiliar denouements--in the story of Hippolyte, she outwits Heracles in his play for her golden girdle--but Frye doesn't entirely rewrite the past; she acknowledges that even the Amazons couldn't escape the spread of the warrior gods when the battle of Troy scattered their tribe. However, armed with this heretofore untold history, Iphito decides her father's assertion that ``the days of the Amazon are over'' is far from true. Frye's gentle prose offers a marked contrast to the violent passion normally displayed in classic Greek myths. (Mar.)
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