I love books, articles, memoirs, etc. about travel. My favorite travel book of all times is Homer’s The Odyssey. Who Homer really was is unknown, but whoever wrote this lively epic is the earliest surviving Greek writer. Greek hero Odysseus fought during The Trojan War in The Iliad, also attributed to Homer. The Odyssey is about his difficult journey home to Ithaca. He bounced from island to island, country to country for a long time having encounters with baddies like a Cyclops, Scylla, etc. He also had help. The Goddess Athena was a buddy, Nausicaa liked his looks and got her parents to aid him, etc. When he finally made it home, Odysseus found yet more trouble. Wisely, he disguised himself before entering his house to find several local men, former friends turned fortune seekers, hitting on his wife Penelope and abusing his son Telemachus.
A few years ago I began imagining what Odysseus would be like if he lived now. I decided he would not be an action figure like Batman or Captain America. But he’d certainly be heroic, clever, brave, etc. Over time, I created a man named Deus who is a Special Forces type and a master of disguises with many talents but still kind of an everyman who finds himself in unusual circumstance that he has to overcome. He has a varied background and has known fame and success, but now in his 30s he seeks peace and anonymity in Iowa, not California. If only the world didn’t need his expertise, his services….
Deus goes through all of the trials that Odysseus had during his journey home. And like Odysseus, Deus eventually has to explain to his beloved wife Penny where he’s been, why he didn’t contact her, and why he showed up disguised as an unfortunate traveler. That was especially fun to imagine and write. He also has to win back his son, now named Chet. A great deal of the joy of updating The Odyssey was envisioning current equals to The Cyclops, Scylla, etc. The results, I hope, are considerably more light-hearted than Homer’s epic of misery. I also couldn’t resist the temptation to mix the comic with the serious.
The result is Moving Forward, Getting Nowhere, a complete retelling of Odysseus’ story that will be available soon via my blog and, just for now, Amazon. If you’ve read the Odyssey or are, at least, familiar with the stories, part of the fun of reading it (I hope) will be figuring out which character is, say, Zeus. Is Eurycleia, Deus’ faithful housekeeper, surrogate mother, and would-be lover now Clea? Indeed, she is. But knowing the stories of The Odyssey is not essential to understanding Moving Forward, Getting Nowhere.
Because The Odyssey is so long, I decided to release my retelling in two parts. The first is about Deus’ travails in trying to get home. Part 2, which will be released soon, is about his final journey and homecoming. I hope you seek them out, travelers.