No-Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through the Odyssey

Scott Huler, Author Crown Publishing Group (NY) $24.95 (286p) ISBN 978-1-4000-8282-7
As this literary travelogue opens, NPR contributor and author Huler (Defining the Wind) sounds like he's going to renege on his 2001 pledge never to read James Joyce's Ulysses. He joins a Ulysses reading group, but finds himself more fascinated by the story behind it: Homer's The Odyssey, which he'd also never read. A plan is born: to retrace Odysseus' twenty-year travels. Huler's first challenge is that nobody really knows where any of the locations actually are-finding them, he says, is like hunting for the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz. Although Huler initially tries too hard to relate his slapdash wanderings to the text (a ride on a Homer-themed cruise has him saying, ""I found myself among these magical seafarers, exactly like Odysseus""), he eventually gives in to the randomness of his travels, and the book is all the better for it. While fighting his way onto crowded ferries or showing up in tiny hamlets with no hotel reservations, he has some realizations about the man he's following and about journeying as its own reward. Huler's book is not without flaws, but in essence, as he himself concludes about The Odyssey's continuing appeal, ""the story has good bones.""
Reviewed on: 03/03/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Open Ebook - 210 pages - 978-0-307-40978-2
Paperback - 286 pages - 978-1-4000-8283-4
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