Doody, Margaret Anne. Aristotle Detective. Great Britain: The Bodley Head, Ltd., 1978.
Reason read: October in Greece; in honor of Ochi (Ochi/Ohi = no, it’s not okay!) Day. It is Greece’s response to Mussolini’s demand to occupy Greece during WWII. Their refusal to give in to Axis power is celebrated every October 28th. Very cool.
Picture this. The year is 332 B.C. and Athens is under the thumb of Alexander the Great. Closer to home, an Athenian citizen is found with an arrow clean through his jugular. A clear case of murder for no one stabs themselves to death with an arrow, so deduces the citizen public. What is not so clear is how Philemon, a young man already in exile for an accidental death in a barroom brawl, is fingered for the crime. Just how can an absent man commit such a heinous act? The task to prove his innocence falls to Philemon’s cousin, Stephanos. Under Athenian law, inexperienced and naive Stephanos must defend the family name in Philemon’s absence. Here’s where Aristotle comes in. Once Stephanos’s mentor, Stephanos knows he can trust Aristotle to guide him to the truth. Like all gripping suspense stories, all evidence points to Philemon’s guilt and clearing his name becomes a Herculean task. It’s the proverbial David and Goliath story with Stephanos the clear underdog. Stephanos is impetuous, emotional and faced with never-ending bad luck. Like the unrelenting surf, he is pounded with one set back after another. Of course this makes for a great mystery! How will Stephanos clear his family name?
Confessional: can I just say how much I loved seeing Pheidippides as a character in Aristotle Detective? And how is this for tongue-in-cheek? “Pheidippides must have been something of a runner” (p 278). I’ll say!
Quote I could relate to very well, “I turned over clothes in the press, and looked into jars and under furniture – into well-swept and barren corners, in the stupid manner of all personal looking for a lost object” (p 83). Been there!
Author fact: It is rare to not see an “about the author” blurb somewhere on a book: back cover, inside flap, somewhere usually with a smiling photograph to accompany it. Aristotle Detective does not give any clues as to Doody’s personal life except for the dedication. She has a sister named Mary Elizabeth Howell-Jones whom Doody considers a “real” classicist.
Book trivia: Aristotle Detective is the first in a series and is Doody’s first fiction. It’s the only Doody book I am reading.
Nancy said: Nancy called Doody a “classicist” and described the Aristotle plot.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 59).
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1954.
Okay. Raise your hands. Who had to read Oedipus in high school? Who had the name come up in at least one college psychology course? Better yet, who acted out the play at any time in their life? I’m guessing most people are not strangers to the story: Mythological king is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. End. Of. Story. That’s the gist of it anyway. There are many different versions out there, depending on which translation you read. MY take-away is this, if it was meant to happen, it will happen. There is no getting out of it. You can twist fate by taking someone else’s fortune cookie, but the right words are destined to find you. So, even though everyone knew the prophesy and tried to avoid the disaster, Oedipus still managed to come across his father, have an altercation, kill him and end up marrying the widow…his own mother. Like I said, you can’t sidestep what will be.
Confessional: Freud ruined this for me. Whenever I hear the name Oedipus I think “complex” and not “ancient Greek trilogy.”
Reason read: May is the best time to visit Greece.
Author fact: Sophocles was one of three Greek tragedians.
Book Play trivia: There’s a lot of music in Oedipus.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Alpha, Beta, Gammas of Greece” (p 11).
Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1992.
If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s writing a review for a classic, especially one that has been analyzed eight ways to Sunday. I mean, I honestly do not think I can add anything new or enlightening to what has already been said. Everyone knows the story of Achilles, right? Having said all that I wish I could pull out a quote from something I wrote in high school or even college. I’m sure I was much more profound in my narrow minded, get good grades, academic-driven youth. Probably the most meaningful element of The Iliad continues to be its grandeur. It is an epic poem of enormous scope with the dominant theme of mortality. According to most other reviewers, translation matters. Everyone has a favorite version. I honestly couldn’t say I felt one way or another about the Fitzgerald translation I read.
Reason read: April is National Poetry month.
Author fact: Homer was a speech writer. He excelled at persuasiveness.
Book trivia: The Iliad andThe Odyssey go hand in hand.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry: A Novel Idea” (p 186).
October. What I can I say about October besides it is a yin yang of good and bad. Three different friends celebrate their anniversaries in this month so it is a month of love for some. My cousin passed away October 10th last year. A new dark cloud anniversary for some. Kisa and a friend and I head to Monhegan for a week. It will be good to be homehome. In fact I’ll need to post this early in order for it not to be almost two weeks late. What else is October? Halloween. Pumpkins. A return to cozy knee high leggings. Kisa and I are already talking about buying and burning wood. The stove didn’t see much action last year. Here are the books:
- Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being computers month. Disclaimer ~ I had to place an interlibrary loan on this one so I’m not sure I’ll actually read it in time.
- Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the Alexander the Great series. Note: I am not reading the third and final book of the trilogy.
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper ~ a continuation of the Leatherstocking series. Nope. I’m just saying I’ll read it when I know I won’t. If the preceding book was “attempted” the following book won’t even get a chance. New rule.
- The Outermost House: A year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being animal month
- Dialect of Sex by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month and strong women (I started this last year and didn’t finish it in time).
- Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being art appreciation month.
- And for audio: The Man From Beijing by Swedish author Henning Mankell ~ as a wild card book.
For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I am reading Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee by Thomas Craughwell. I’m pretty excited about this one. Historical cooking with a Founding Father. You can’t go wrong!