Orrie's Story

Thomas Berger, Author Little Brown and Company $18.45 (276p) ISBN 978-0-316-09220-3
Weak vision appears to be Berger's ( Little Big Man ; the Reinhart series) hamartia in this muddled modernized take on the Oresteia. A pun-happy narrative casts Agamemnon as small-town loser Augie Mencken, returning home after WW II decorated and distinguished. His harpy wife (Clytemn-) Esther and her lover E.G. (Aegisthus) have other than a hero's welcome planned: murder is in store. Esther despises Augie for his spinelessness and blames him for their daughter's having run away, but E.G., also Augie's cousin, has a generations-old score to settle--an improperly large share of an inheritance allowed Augie's father, not E.G.'s, to establish a local five-and-dime. Such penny-ante feuding characterizes the novel; after a blackly humorous beginning that both reveals to the reader that Augie's wartime exploits are entirely fictitious and contains an obligatory botched-murder scene, Berger's tone wavers drastically and his comedy dissolves. He plugs Augie's children into their roles as Orestes, Electra and Iphigenia; throws in the Furies and Apollo as courtroom lawyers; and makes a reference or two to Oedipus; but the classical Greek roots here are otherwise barren. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-014994-4
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4804-6850-4
Show other formats
Discover what to read next