Friday, November 26, 2010

Excerpt. 'Home to Ithaca,' (subject to change.)

by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All Rights Reserved

“Ithaca, here we come,” grinned Ulysses in anticipation of a good journey, feasting his eyes and his senses on the hills, and fields and pastures of Greece.

“It feels good to be dry again,” said the hoplite Aristides. “The ground still pitches underfoot, but the lingering memory of the wine last night helps, rather than hinders.”

“Some country air, and what a beautiful country we share, shall clear your head out!” noted Thucydides.

“No need to shout,” noted Ulysses, ambling along between the other two. “Feast your eyes, my friends, and feast your lungs, and your hearts, for surely that is the best cure for a well-earned hangover. Some good, honest walking is what you fellows require.”

He lengthened his stride and soon had them cursing and laughing.

“Slow down, Ulysses, or you shall walk alone!” said his elder companion, the sturdy and studious Thucydides. “Eager as you are to taste the sweet delights of home and the lovely Penelope, we will sleep by the road tonight one way or another.”

“Look at the olive trees,” sighed Aristides. “The gods may have Mount Olympus to themselves, heroes as we undoubtedly are. Give me home, and good honest toil upon my own soil. Give me peace and quiet, my wife and my daughters, my brothers and sisters, and my olive trees. Give me my sparkling stream and my good horses, for surely never was there a finer team.”

“You can speak or be silent, I shall enjoy this walk one way or another,” agreed Ulysses. “But, oh, if only I could fly, I would tarry not with you my friends, but go upon the wings of Pegasus!”


Author's note: So this is what I have bitten into and it sure looks interesting. As for putting Thucydides in there, it's early yet and it's easy enough to change a name. If you are already familiar with Homer's classic tale, then the challenges are easy to see, especially as I hope to make a short story of about 10,000-20,000 words.

I would also prefer to remain as true as possible to the spirit of the original and in some ways to ignore 'back story.' I have no idea of how long this will take or where it might eventually be published.

I have a simple nuts and bolts approach to writing. What I need is a good rough draft that has a beginning, a middle, a climax, and an ending that is nice and short.

By printing out the relevant book-notes studied by millions of students over the years, I can keep the basic facts straight. While not a big fan of fantasy, I think I can deal with the story in purely human terms, as if it were historical fiction and nothing else.

In some sense, Ulysses himself is a myth, and Homer's work is a hard act to follow. Like the character I am studying, I kind of like to take a few risks, but I also like to think it through.

So far, I'm having a blast. I can't wait for the bloodbath scene, and the final act, if I can call it that, may end up being sublime comedy.

As for the tendency to make it a sort of half-rhyming prose, I don't know why that is. It just sort of happened.

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