I Smell Sheep is honored to be the first stop on Michael Williams' book tour for
Vine: An Urban Legend
presented by the wonderful people at First Rule PR.
Vine: An Urban Legend
by Michael Williams
Genre: Mythic Fiction
Amateur theater director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.
Michael Williams' Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion
I am going to be honest… I can’t give this book a rating. I don’t think I was able to fully appreciate what Williams accomplished because I am somewhat culturally illiterate; my Greek mythology and knowledge of ancient Greek literature is way too rusty to help in my understanding of the story. I was able to grasp the author’s intent, but it reads to much like something I would have read in college, which is why I went into the sciences. <G> I don't think I am the demographic he is trying to reach because I found it work to read and understand. While the book was entertaining in its premise, it requires picking apart and analyzing (like in school) to truly appreciate it... a great choice for a book club. It needs your full attention and I like to think it was more my metal laziness than my intellectual failings that created the great WHOOSH sound I heard as parts went right over my head. (Kalpar: Weakling! Analyzing books makes you strong like Kalpar! That is how we do it in the old country!)
Williams wrote a Greek tragedy set in modern times, but he wrote it in the classical Greek play format. There is a large cast of characters including a host of narrators and a chorus giving commentary on the events. The author also has an amazing grasp of language and a vocabulary that had me looking up definitions at least twice per page (thank goodness for the dictionary function on the kindle!) I understood the basic premise of the story and even got some of the clever hidden layers of meaning woven through out, especially when Williams compares the gods’ petty and vengeful behavior to man’s and shows that they are the same and things haven’t changed since ancient times.
I liked how Williams used the play within a play, like in Hamlet, as a vehicle to prove how alike the gods and man are. The protagonist, Stephen, is directing Euripides’ tragedy The Bacchae and the cast is also unknowingly playing out the story in real life as the ancient gods manipulate them for fun and for vengeance. The principals in the cast are also being manipulated in the same way by a vengeful game master, who behaves in the same manner as the gods, at their weekly D&D RPG. Like a vicious ironic circle of petty behavior.
I've read other reviews by people who are familiar with Greek literature and they are all impressed with the technical brilliance of the story and able to throw around words like allegory, metaphors and sub context… Oh, My! And they are right, it is all impressively there, but this story isn't for everyone. I am glad I read it. I feel a little smarter for it and learned some new words I will definitely be pulling out at parties <G>.
Sharon Stogner (editing and snarky comments by Kalpar)
About the author:
Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.
Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010).
He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.