Vine – An Urban Legend (free on amazon until Wednesday – click here to download!)
by Michael Williams
192 pages / Mythic fiction
Summary: Amateur theatre 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.
Review: Dang, the beginning of this book made me feel stupid and realize how little I know about the Greek tragedies! Williams doesn’t dumb it down for you, and Greek play specific words were used that I had no idea what they were, looked up and have now forgotten (my poor brain). This is a story about a man, Stephen, who is going to put on a free show at the local Shakespeare theater. He has decided to do the tragedy The Bacchae by Euripedes, where the Maenads tore apart the king who had tried to imprison Dionysus/Bacchus at the end. The story itself is written like a Greek play, through the nine muses and some transients as the chorus with an older language feel. When I finally got into the flow I found the chorus hilarious and tongue in cheek but still a bit difficult. It is not an easy, breezy read that is for sure. This would be awesome to read with an English teacher actually! But I just soldiered through, I got a little confused about who was who and some of the past events that helped bring about this modern tragedy of a play within a story…
“So all along, up to this spring night in the park, Stephen had been dodging the thunderbolt. The god had reserved a place for him.
But immortal attention is rarely the best of things.” (pg 25)
Through parts of it I felt like I was watching a Greek play focused Slings and Arrows, the Canadian TV show (which I loved) about a Shakespeare production company and its actors. The show was a comedy, and Williams’ characters are quite funny at times. Unfortunately whenever a god is interested in you, things don’t usually work out so well. And these characters are being manipulated into reenacting, not just acting out The Bacchae in modern times. Because Williams also plays with urban legend you hear slightly different versions of stories from the different narrators and you can see how legend is born from truth.
This story is not for everyone. It would really help if you have read a few Greek tragedies and have a background in the stories of the Greek gods and heroes. Also, it is a tragedy, so there are some pretty horrible things that happen. But it was certainly well done, and I feel a tiny bit smarter for having read it. I can’t imagine how much research this took to write. If I read this with an English class, or had read more Euripedes or Sophocles (instead of just thinking about it), I would have gotten a bunch more from it and enjoyed it more, but right now I give it 3.5 stars.
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). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.
He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
- Michael Williams Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/michael.williams.33046
- Michael Williams Blog: http://michaellwilliams.blogspot.com/
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”