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.)
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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
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There were some intriguing blurbs (as was no doubt intended) that lured me to this book. "A modern-day Odysseus...", "...prodigious, Joycean prose... Read morePublished on April 8, 2009 by John P. Jones III
Although the novel covers some interesting aspects, it fails to captivate its audience. Its barbaric and at times childish remarks fall short of what a good author should provide... Read morePublished on February 22, 2007 by Bryan A. Meyer
Of all the books I ordered for my son, this was clearly the best written and most interesting conceptually.Published on January 15, 2007 by R. Potter
This book is beautiful. A frightfully frank and intimate look at love, lust, literature, language. You can smell sea salt in these pages, and taste the limbs, legumes, frog soup &... Read morePublished on May 14, 2006 by Jedediah Fossil