R. Douglas Clark
Perfect bound, 139 pages, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2"
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About the Book
Discharged from the Marines after three tours in Afghanistan, Leo Lewis is on his way home—like another warrior 3,000 years ago. And as Leo crosses the country, the challenges faced by Homer’s greatest hero confront him as well. Cyclops, Circe, Scylla, Charybdis, and more all are waiting for him in dramatic, enchanting, frightening, and funny adventures reimagined through the lens of today’s realities.
The next day, Leo drove to Fort Morgan, Alabama, where he caught a ferry to Dauphin Island. Hermes the Messenger leaned against the boat’s railing. He had put himself in the neon colors and snug-fitting clothes of a bicycle racer, with shoes that appeared to be equipped with wings. Next to him stood Leo, watching a pelican: two fit young men savoring the breeze.
“I like ferries ’cause they force me to slow down,” said Hermes. “Most of the time, I’m racing here and there from place to place, never stopping to enjoy the ride. ’Course if I did stop, I wouldn’t be riding anymore, would I? Is that a paradox or is it irony?”
This was too much for Leo. “Where ya headed?” he asked.
“Don’t know yet. Memphis is nearby, but I could be dispatched to Buenos Aires or Helsinki.”
“Helsinki? What kind of business are you in?”
“Communications. It’s the Communication Age, you know.”
“So I’ve heard. We’re all connected instantly. Is there anything you can’t do with a cell phone?”
“We’re slaves to the satellites. Telepathy is much more reliable, though dreams work just as well.”
“Communicating, instant messaging. Just put me on the Dream Express, and I’ll deliver the news.”
“Dreams are normal, I suppose, but what do nightmares mean?”
“I don’t deal in meaning; I’m just the messenger. You have nightmares?” Hermes asked, knowing the answer well.
“Once in a while I do.”
“Yeah, like every night, I’ll bet. You’re probably afraid to go to sleep.”
Leo gave him a hard stare.
“I have a suggestion, my friend,” Hermes said. “I know a woman not too far from here. She’s a healer, among other things. Maybe she could help you.”
“You mean a shrink?”
“No, man, a healer. She’s got special powers.”
“Heals the sick, raises the dead?”
“Hey, this is straight from the fridge, dude. She can weave spells, call down curses, cast out demons, turn men to swine if that’s what she wants.”
“Reads tea leaves and Tarot cards?”
“No doubt. Circe’s got a deep connection with the spirit world.”
“Voodoo? Are you saying she’s a voodoo queen?”
“It might be voodoo, or maybe she’s a psychic. All I can say is that she knows what’s going on underneath, deep down in your soul.”
Leo had nothing to say to that. After a while, he asked, “Where can I find this Circe?”
“She lives outside a little town called Aiaia in Louisiana. It’s near Beaux Bridge on Bayou Teche. Go at night. Look for a blue light in the window five miles west of town.”
The ferry had reached the dock, and Hermes put his helmet on.
“Good luck,” he said. “Catch you on the flip side.” And he was off.
About the Author
R. Douglas Clark is a small business entrepreneur, father, baseball fan, and musician who grew up in Colorado and Oregon and now lives on a raspberry farm in Chimayó, New Mexico. After 25 years as a Eugene, Oregon, business owner, he moved in 2002 to Chimayó, where he ran the local Boys and Girls Club before retiring a second time and shifting his main focus to fiction—resulting now in his first novel, American Odyssey.
Praise for American Odyssey
All time is simultaneous, some philosophers posit. In American Odyssey, Doug Clark drolly turns a Marine returning from Afghanistan into a modern Ulysses. During his journey home, Leo Lewis encounters Athena, Poseidon, and a pantheon of other sometimes-cranky Greeks. Clark’s writing in this spirited novella is sly and sublime— and you can’t top his cast of characters.”
Author of The Origin of Sorrow, and eight other books
Combine the American legend of the great road trip with the Greek epic of Ulysses returning from the Trojan War and you get an original: a novel about an Afghanistan War veteran using the byroads of the continent to heal his horrors and deal with his demons. The tale of this Marine is the story of a million other war veterans taking “the long road home.”
Author of A Reporter’s World: Passions, Places, and People
Like Odysseus returning from the Trojan War, Leo Lewis, stressed-out Marine survivor of a long tour in Afghanistan, returns to his estranged wife and young son. But first comes a solo car trip across an America that’s different from the one he left, where survival now is just as uncertain as combat in Kandahar. Tested by a pantheon of self-serving yet sometimes compassionate gods, Leo’s journey is full of twists and turns, with the abiding lesson that no one should presume to know his own fate. Evocatively written and bursting with insights.
Author of The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder, and 22 other books
Doug Clark presents us with a whimsical juxtaposition of Homer’s language and our own. Having finished his service as a Marine in Afghanistan, Leo Lewis sets out on a road trip across America back to his wife and a young son he has never met, but Nausicaa and Circe set out to lure him, and the Greek gods watch for ways to help or hinder him. Although Leo despises the materialism and hedonism of the companions he meets, can he expect anything more? Leo’s odyssey highlights the alienation and isolation of trying to find one’s way to a home one hardly knows.
Professor of Classics,
St. John’s College
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