Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Have a good time with Gods Behaving Badly and can you help them get a job?

One of my favorite sections of the library as a kid was where all the books about mythology were-I was a total Greek gods geek and could recap most of the major myths with the same fervor and overwrought attention to detail as any hardcore Trekkie can compare and contrast all of the captains of the Starship Enterprise. So,when I was introduced to Marie Phillips' new novel about the ancient Greek gods of old living in London called Gods Behaving Badly,my nostaglia cup runneth over.

The story begins as the various gods and goddesses go thru their regular routine of putting up with each other and the current state of the world,which no longer believes in them and requires them to go out and work for a living(some of them,anyway). Artemis is a professional dog walker who seems to be the only one who even considers taking any form of responsibility(except perhaps for Eros,who strives to be a good Christian)and is sick of her brother Apollo's standard response to being rejected by mortal women,which is turning them into trees.

Aphrodite(a phone sex operator) is also annoyed with Apollo(for more selfish reasons)and gets her son Eros to deliever some payback on her behalf,by shooting a love arrow at him during the taping of Apollo's new psychic television show. Apollo winds up falling madly in love with the first person he sees who turns out to be Alice,a sweetly shy yet smart at Scrabble girl that snuck into the show as a way of getting closer to her good friend Neil,who sees her as more of a friend.

Alice loses her job and thru Aphrodite's manipulations,becomes the cleaner at the current home of the gods,which is slowly falling apart and filthy beyond belief. Apollo follows her around,determined to make her fall in love with him or atleast sleep with him(made more difficult due to Artemis forcing him to swear on the river Styx not to harm any mortals,which is an unbreakable vow for gods). Neil becomes worried and jealous,which leads to several confrontations and decisions that threaten to destroy all life on earth as well as the gods themselves. Talk about a real clash of the titans,indeed!:

This isn't a fantasy novel that gets way too serious for it's own good;Phillips uses that particular brand of Everyman humor that the Brits seem to have a patent on to enrich the various goings-on and inner workings of her characters.

She knows her Greek mythos backwards and forwards which only boosts her creativity,giving mondern mundane details to the Underworld(which the dead can reach via the Tube) and keeping her gaggle of Greek gods true to their natures while blending in a few touches of humanity into them,mainly Artemis. Running a close second in the strong female catagory is Aphrodite,whose self centeredness makes her the ultimate diva but not quite the villianess that she appears to be at first:

It's Alice,however,who is the heart of the novel and you really root for her and Neil to finally get together at last. Even if you have no clue about who Zeus is or think that God of War only refers to a video game,Gods Behaving Badly can still entertain you and perhaps stir up some interest in Edith Hamilton's Mythology(hey,if Beowulf the movie can get folks into reading it again or for the first time,why not?). At the very least,you'll get a grin or two at the fine follies Marie Phillips treats her readers to.

To further sweeten the pot,I'm holding another contest in which the Grand Prize winner will recieve a free copy of Gods Behaving Badly by writing the best job ad for the Greek god or goddess of your choice. The Gods Behaving Badly Help Wanted Contest starts today,and ends on December 15*,so that you can get your prize in time for the holidays. Just write a brief paragraph(four or five sentences,at the most),that could help Hermes get a delivery man position,Apollo some work at a tanning salon or the goddess of love herself a job that's right up her alley,like this:

"Divinely beautiful woman seeks work as matchmaker. Has vast centuries of experience and many somewhat satisfied clients. Would prefer to work in smoke free environment with handsome men and reasonably ugly women. References available upon request."

Okay,folks,I'm looking forward to your entries which you should send to livingreadgirl@yahoo.com. Please DO NOT post your entry in the Comments section,otherwise I can't consider it and it would be a shame to give away your clever wordplay like that. Give it the old college try;after all,if the rat race is hard enough for humans to deal with,imagine what it would be like for a god to deal with office politics:

*UPDATE: The Gods Behaving Badly Help Wanted Contest deadline is now extended,until the end of January 2008. Since this is a busy time of year for folks,it just makes sense to stretch things out a bit longer and if you're in danger of being snowed in,like I am,this should be a fun option to amuse yourself with.

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