American Odyssey - R. Douglas Clark
For American Odyssey, the blurb was enough to get my attention. Leo Lewis, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, decides to take a road trip instead of going directly home to his wife in order to dispel the PTSD he fears will ruin his reunion. Athena (yes, the goddess) watches over him as the other gods, namely Poseidon, try to throw a wrench in Leo's fate every step of the way.

I haven't read Homer's Odyssey since I was in high school, but I remembered enough of the story to be comfortable with the clever references sprinkled throughout the text. R. Douglas Clark writes with a strong voice, that compliments the allusions in a way that does what it should: enriches and emboldens the myth in a new and intricate way. I loved the descriptions of the city, and how the visceral depictions of New Orleans, Taos, Utah and others really captured the diversity of culture and character of the greater United States. As someone who has gone on many a road trip (to nearly all of the places mentioned), I feel that Clark has truly captured the spirit of every city, and the characters that inhabit most of the regions were interesting and unique.

My one real complaint about the story is that I felt the ending with Penelope was nearly anti-climatic, after his epic (no pun intended) journey there. I would have liked to see more of a catharsis on Leo's side than the wife's, though I understand the reasoning of it. At the very least, the tongue-in-cheek epilogue made up for most of my disappointment in Leo's confrontation with Penelope's high-school-ish band of suitors. Overall, this story reminded me of a modern rendition of "O Brother Where Art Thou?", and that's a really, really good thing.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.