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Olympus, Indiana: A Story of Gods, Goddesses, and the Underpants of Zeus Paperback – April 28, 2015
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If there’s one author who can be counted on to carry the comedy torch into the future, it’s Mike Ball. The author of several hilarious books and recipient of an Erma Bombeck award, Ball has a brilliantly funny new novel, “Olympus, Indiana,” that’s destined to become a classic. Set in a fictional small town, it tells an epic story of the greatest and most famous Greek Gods, waking up from thousands of years of sleep.
This side-splitting adventure-comedy, subtitled “A Story of Gods, Goddesses and the Underpants of Zeus,” begins at the Delphi hotel, owned and operated by the re-awakened Greek Gods. A depressed, downhearted Zeus has lost his Amulet, a bracelet that enabled him to be Mr. Big, and is unsuccessfully trying to “zap” a cockroach on the bar counter. Meanwhile, Aphrodite walks in doing her familiar “walk of shame” and is joined by Athena, Hermes, Ares and the rest of the crew.
(Unless you happened to have been home-schooled in a meth-lab trailer park in Kentucky, there’s no need to fear. Most of the Greek Gods involved are well-known. And if you don’t want to google their names, there is an equally humorous appendix with all you ever need to know.)
Slowly and hilariously, “Olympus, Indiana” evolves into an uproariously absurd and entertaining parody, with plenty of drama and battle scenes thrown in for good measure. It’s “The Odyssey” meets “Blazing Saddles”; “The Lord of the Rings” meets “The Sopranos”; “The Iliad” meets “Annie Hall” – in short, it’s a wild and crazy meditation on Gods, humans, blunder, folly, hubris and humility.
Every turn of the page in “Olympus, Indiana” features lightning-fast dialogue, gags and buffoonery. Mike Ball’s imagination is endlessly entertaining, whether illuminating the Gods constant bickering and jockeying for power or going full scale into battles that rival the imagination of Mr. Tolkien himself. What makes this novel unique are the many surprises that are included in this epic tale. Who knew that 10-year-old (going on eleven) Angie could do more with a blue piece of chalk than the duplicitous God Hera and her twin newly-minted Gods, Carl and Todd? Who are these barflies: ironically named Bill Wilson and his wife Karen? And how on earth will the Gods survive the shocking final scene?
There is never a dull moment in “Olympus, Indiana” and Mike Ball magically wraps his saga up into a tightly woven morality tale that will not only make you laugh at nearly every line, but leave you with a lesson (Hint: Be nice to your high school teachers.) I don’t know for sure, but it looks like Ball just might have this book set up for a sequel.
With this new novel Mike Ball re-enters into the pantheon of God-like comedy writers. “Olympus, Indiana” is like Homer on nitrous-oxide.
It’s the funniest book you’ll read in millennia.
I totally loved this book.
It is a fast read - only takes a few hours, depending on interruptions from telemarketers and the dog needing to go out.
Honestly, though... I was not looking for a comedic read when I began my search for a book about this pantheon in modern times - I wanted a hero on an epic quest; fighting, mythological creatures and magic and a villain making attempts at world domination. However, with a tag line that promised me a peek at Zeus' underpants, I had as much of a chance of passing it up as Aphrodite would for walking past a sale on shoes...
I laughed, I snorted and I maybe even guffawed a few times at the antics herein.
To my thrill, I also got an unexpected (and adorable) hero, battles of epic proportion (even if they were a bit silly: Golden Ostrich, really?), a villain (or two), those mythological creatures abounded and plenty of 'magic' too.
So this was a win all around.
Thanks to Mike Ball for letting me take a 'peek' at those Godly panties. ;)
Olympus, Indiana is a wry, sharp and colorful novel, with interesting characters galore. The Midwest setting is a delight, especially considering the cast – I use a film description of the characters because Mike Ball’s novel has a cinematic vibe. The book is well crafted and engaging and the “cast” are a fine gaggle of oddballs, each struggling with their desires and goals, no matter how nuts they are. The book moves along at a good clip and the premise has a wonderful, Richard Brautigan-like quality – There is little more fun that what Mr. Ball has done by mixing Real Life and comical, out of this world characters.
Olympus, Indiana brought to mind that other fine work, the “tragi comedic novel” God Knows, by Joseph Heller. Both Mr. Ball and Mr. Heller balance humor and whimsical with the sincere and dramatic.
I suggest you pack your bags and wander on into Olympus, Indiana. You’re in for good and interesting read.