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The Suitors: A Novel Paperback – July 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (July 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031837
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,333,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Explicitly comparing itself to The Odyssey, Ehrenreich's first novel owes less to Homer's epic than to Joyce's. With his linguistic acrobatics, caustic wit and mix-and-match structure, Ehrenreich (son of activist journalist Barbara) shows the stirrings of an original talent. Set in a never-never land equal parts contemporary America and classical antiquity, the book centers on the romance of the Ulysses and Penelope–like lovers Payne and Penny. Payne gathers a loosely organized rabble of flunkies to assist him in building a palace for Penny, and soon mobilizes them into an army to fight for glory and riches. After a period of happy pillaging, Payne disappears on the warpath, and Penny and her suitors are left alone, wondering if their leader will ever return. Bound by their collective love (and lust) for Penny, the suitors begin to bicker, sinking into sadness and delusion. Ehrenreich is less concerned with his deliberately ramshackle plot than with the glories of his language. With a talent for literary mimicry, he tries on a multiplicity of voices (some more successful than others). As the story proceeds and echoes Homer more closely, the novel's wit ebbs, but for those with a lust for American modernist fiction, Ehrenreich's will be a journey they'll gladly take. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Regular LA Weekly contributor Ehrenreich leaves journalistic prose far behind in a richly imagined novel loosely based on Homer's Odyssey and inspirited by a dazzling display of verbal gifts. The suitors of the title are the parade of prospective lovers who line up on the doorstep of heroine Penny (i.e., Penelope) after her husband, Payne, abandons her. As the novel's Odysseus figure, Payne has built a protective palace around his wife, then promptly assembled an army to fight overseas. In his absence, Penny becomes surrounded by lustful ne'er-do-wells but pines only for Payne until a mysterious stranger appears to capture her fancy and set the stage for her husband's dramatic return. Ehrenreich's odd mixing of psychological insight and full-blooded characterizations with frivolous plot twists and riotous action may not be to everyone's taste, yet it makes for some delicious occasional black comedy. Any resemblance to Homer's classic is mostly superficial, but Ehrenreich's prodigious, Joycean prose establishes him as a writer to watch. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ondre on August 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm not Ehrenreich's target audience. I was attracted to this book because of the notion of retelling the Odessey with some modern slant. Great idea. Potential in there. But that's not really what this novel is about. Any links to the Odyessey are purely superficial.

Sorry, but as far as I can tell this novel was written to convince people that the author is terribly clever. It's not about character. Not about plot. The characters never speak like real people. There's an emphasis on sex in a way that seems typical of young men's fantasies. There was a moment not too far in when the author says, with deprecating self-indulgence, that he wishes the story could end here. Thing is, so did I. But it's obvious at that point that he's going to carry on for as long as he can. It's highly self-indulgent stuff, probably best enjoyed by friends of the author. I say it's mostly about the author being clever, but when a whole book seems focussed on convincing you of that it starts to ring a bit hollow.

I know that there are some folks out there that will like this - but not many. I guess it's highly "literary". He does have some great blurbs on the back by authors that I admire. Okay. Maybe I missed something. But if you like a good story about real people stumbling through life... Well this probably isn't the book for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rebecca ellis on July 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is really an extraordinary, beautiful novel. It is not for everyone--it's too smart to be, too strange and strangely wise. I bought this book and half expected it to be some pale shadow of Homer and found instead a whole world, hilarious, sad, absurd. Did I mention beautiful?
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Antonia J on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Odyssey and The Suitors are like bookends for Western Civilization. This book is great, actually funny, filled with longing and sadness. It's a sly satire of our world, but infused with hope for life in the wreckage. I also found it truly, surprisingly, romantic. Not a word I usually use in a positive sense. But the Suitors is, really, a romance, an actual romance, for those of us who live in the decidedly unromantic world of freaks and lazy bums and warmongers and drug addicts. It's moving and beautiful. A major achievement.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been wanting to read this novel since I read a short story by Ehrenreich in McSweeneys about an odd couple meeting in an aquarium in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Although it's far from my idea of the perfect novel and I can see how it might be construed as pretentious, I think Ehrenreich has a very unique, and poetic voice. I love the way this book and the short story I read seem to teeter somewhere between a surreal nightmare, a daydream, and everyday reality. It's not for everyone, but if you are looking for something different and you appreciate the craft of writing, it might be just right for you!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There were some intriguing blurbs (as was no doubt intended) that lured me to this book. "A modern-day Odysseus...", "...prodigious, Joycean prose..."," its daring not to be safe--not to be another well-made boredom turned out from trade schools." So, I had high hopes, and approached the book with the idea that this might be the new Thomas Pynchon. Alas! Dashed hopes for sure. The book certainly lacks the erudition of Pynchon, and the prose is so far from Joycean. And the Odysseus connection is most strained. Likewise, any possible satirical connection with the previous American administration, and its love of endless war.

No, I found a book in which the characters rambled, no particular motivation, just so much "Brownian motion" as they float on the surface of the non-story. Actions replete with meaningless descriptions of clothes worn, and meals ate. Particularly distressing is the gratuitous violence, whose glorification comes easy to those that have never experienced the real thing. I strained, and kept asking myself, "Am I missing something here"? and save for a few pithy observations on the male-female relationship, I eventually answered: "No." The one book that it reminded me of is William Burrough's "Cities of the Red Night," which was produced by the drug-induced fantasies of a man with far too much money, and who used it poorly. A book I thoroughly detested. Yet, in looking at the reviews of the later book, seems like a lot of people like it, so I'm willing to leave the door open for reconsideration.

Which is the main reason I'm willing to give the book a 2-star rating, an extra star for "reconsideration," as well as to encourage the author along the path of his inclination: no cute "trade school" books for the masses, and Pynchon's "mantle" still awaits.
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By bestia on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Suitors takes off from the bloody and seldom-mentioned ending of the Odyssey -- when Odysseus comes home and slaughters all of Penelope's suitors and serving maids. It's a love story, a grand adventure-- and sometimes a laugh riot-- that puts me in mind of the early David Mitchell, before he decided to become so tediously historically realistic. As a general rule, I'm a little wary of "experimental" fiction, but in this case the experiment is a brilliant success!
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