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Gil Marsh Hardcover – February 28, 2012
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
About the Author
A. C. E. BAUER has always been infatuated with the classics, and has been telling stories ever since she could talk (some were real whoppers). After learning how to write, she began handing them out as gifts to her family. Ms. Bauer took a break from writing for a while when she was a lawyer helping poor people, writing legal briefs and telling stories about her clients. She has returned to fiction and now writes for children of all ages. Born and raised in Montreal, she spends most of the year in Cheshire, Connecticut, and much of the summer on a lake in Quebec. She lives with her husband, two children, and their dog Speedy. Learn more at acebauer.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
First day of school. Coach yelled from across the field. “Marsh! Meet our latest recruit.”
Gil stopped stretching and jogged over. Coach spoke to a boy dressed in a running tank and shorts. Thick black hair covered the boy’s knuckles and arms. It poked out from his chest, his shoulders and neck. It covered his legs. A beast boy, Gil thought.
“. . . help you out. He’s one of our best runners.” Coach turned to Gil. “Marsh, this is Enko Labette. He’s from Quebec.”
Hmph. Gil wasn’t one of the cross-country team’s best runners. He was the best. No one else came close. He had led James E. Uruk High School to Nationals two years in a row.
“Hi,” Gil said.
Enko extended his hand in an oddly formal gesture. Gil shook it.
Enko had a powerful grip—a ring on his pinky finger dug in slightly. He smiled, producing a deep dimple in his chin. He was trying hard to impress.
Well, let’s see what the beast boy could do.
“You follow me,” Gil told him.
He started the warm-up jog just a notch faster than usual. Enko didn’t break a sweat.
“Round the back, over the Rock!” Coach yelled to the team. “No clock today. Keep to the running trail. I want it clean and even.”
Clock or no, Gil took off, in a sprint now, almost at racing speed.
They circled around the back of the school to one of the paths along the Green Valley Creek, over the footbridge to cross the water, then up the side of Overhang Rock. The other boys lagged behind.
Overhang Rock stood three hundred feet above town. Made of exposed, weathered red stone, it had a war memorial at the top, erected some ninety years ago by a veterans’ group. A running trail wound alongside a road that led to the memorial.
Gil ignored the running trail and chose a hiking path that switchbacked in the other direction, zigzagging at sharp angles around and up the other side of the Rock. At a walk, the trail provided a small challenge. At a run, it required all your concentration to get from one boulder to the next without falling. Gil could do the path in the dark—had done so numerous times. Enko, much to Gil’s surprise, took to it as if he could run it blindfolded.
By the time they reached the Memorial, sweat trickled down Gil’s back.
“We follow the road down,” he said. “Safer that way.”
Enko nodded. He wasn’t the least bit winded. Who was this kid?
Gil sprinted even faster downhill.
When they returned to the field behind the high school, Coach was waiting for them. “What the hell is the matter with you, Marsh? I said the running trail, not the climbing one!”
Gil leaned forward, hands on his thighs, panting. This had been more of a workout than he had expected. Enko breathed a little harder, too, but wasn’t out of breath.
“It’s okay, Coach,” Enko said. He had this weird French accent. “That was fun.”
Coach scowled. “Maybe Marsh can learn something from you.” He might have said more, but off in the distance two runners trickled onto the field.
“Cool-down walks!” he yelled. “Everyone,” he added pointedly to Gil.
When Coach turned to address the other boys, Enko slapped Gil on the shoulder. Gil walked ahead, ignoring the gesture. Beast Boy had just outperformed him. No one had done that before. And Coach had noticed.
Top customer reviews
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For one thing, I never felt as if I really connected to the characters. I didn't find myself really caring all that much about either Gil or Enko or what was going to happen to them. For the most part I kept reading because at first hoped it would get better and later on I figured well, I've gotten this far, so I might as well soldier on...and then, bam! It was over. Can you say anticlimactic? It really didn't leave the reader with a sense of completion, and Gil definitely doesn't reach anything near the epiphany that the original character in the epic does.
Another aspect of the book that I wasn't crazy about was the style of writing. There were far too many short, choppy sentences within short, choppy chapters. One thing I did like, though, was the sprinkling of French Canadian throughout--that was pretty neat, and Gil's attempts to pronounce them (cleverly showing the reader how to say a lot of the phrases) was a nice touch. And how many books have characters enjoying poutine in them? Not nearly enough! (Yes, it does sound and look pretty gross. But oh my goodness, it is delicious! Its inclusion alone is almost worth two stars!)
In all, it was an okay read and one I have already mentioned to my classes. It definitely won't go in my "to be re-read" pile, though.
After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh is distraught. He sets out on a quest to learn the secret of eternal life and thereby be reunited with Enkidu. When he finds the immortal hero, Utnapishtim, who survived a great flood (similar to the biblical account of Noah), Gilgamesh learns that "the eternal life you are seeking, you shall not find. When the gods created mankind, they established death for mankind, and witheld eternal life for themselves." Although Gilgamesh did not find the answer he sought, his journey ultimately made him a better, more successful person.
In GIL MARSH, A.C.E. Bauer updates this epic for the 21st century. Gil is one of the most popular boys in his high school. He is the star of the cross-country team, the object of all the girls' crushes. When Enko moves to town from Quebec, Gil is at first jealous of this new boy who charms his classmates instantly and who can run at least as well as Gil. But over time, the two become remarkably close, only to have Enko die suddenly from leukemia.
Gil is devastated by Enko's death, and he no longer finds pleasure in the things that used to bring him joy. He decides to head north to Canada in search of the man who made a ring that Enko used to wear --- a ring that he gave to Gil shortly before his death, a ring that supposedly was made by an immortal man. Might this man have the secret to eternal life? Gil's journey through Montreal and the wilds of Quebec is full of as many questions as answers, but maybe he will find a way to bring Enko back. Or perhaps he will find something else entirely.
At first, Bauer's decision to retell the epic of Gilgamesh might seem to be an odd one, but in fact, this ancient story has a long history of being included in popular culture and other retellings, including novels by Philip Roth and Joan London, a song by They Might Be Giants, and several theater works, television shows, and other works of children's literature.
Despite its surprising setting, Bauer's retelling remains remarkably true to the original's spirit. This includes the potentially homoerotic nature of Gilgamesh's relationship with Enkidu, a factor that perhaps doesn't translate quite as well to the suburban high school setting, where Gil and Enko's physical and emotional closeness would likely spark more attention and controversy than it does here. Some of the elements seem forced --- "Uruk" would be an unlikely name for a Connecticut high school, for example --- but the broad outlines of grief, journey and recovery are as immortal and relevant now as they would have been more than 2,000 years ago.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
To find resolution to the emptiness Enko has left behind, Gil travels through Canada, to find the maker of a ring that belonged to Enko and visit his grave. ON his journey, he meets many people, some nice and welcoming, some treacherous. In the end, he's not sure he's found what he wanted to, but closure has found him.
I really loved this story, it's a fast read and takes you through Gil's confusion and pain, making you feel for the guy and hope he can pick up the pieces of his shattered heart. Amazing storytelling. I do not agree with the other reviews of this story at all. It is closely based on the ancient story of Gilgamesh, the Sumerian King from 3000 BC, and I believe the author took this tale and spun it into their own very well.
I highly Recommend it.