characters Ð An Arrow's Flight

Mark Merlis Õ 9 characters

Y be a divinity in disguise Comical moving startling in its audacity and range An Arrow's Flight is a profound meditation on gay identity straight power and human liberati This book T Seasons in the Sun profound meditation on gay identity straight Dark Fever power and human liberati This book T

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An Arrow's Flight

The award winning An Arrow's Flight tells the story of the Trojan War and Pyrrhus the son of the fallen Achilles now working as a go go boy and hustler in the big city Mag This was on

review ¼ E-book, or Kindle E-pub Õ Mark Merlis

Ically blending ancient headlines and modern myth Merlis creates a fabulous new world where legendary heroes declare their endowments in personal ads and any panhandler ma Man that wa

10 thoughts on “An Arrow's Flight

  1. says:

    I loved this book but I'm not really sure who I'd recommend it to Having some kind of knowledge or passion for Greek mythology seems reuisite going in I can't imagine getting much enjoyment out of this if you aren't familiar with the original stories that Merlis is adapting and expounding on and subverting but this is not your run of the mill Homeric retellingYou start the novel with Pyrrhus son of Achilles and you think you're going to Troy That's how the story goes anyway Achilles dies Pyrrhus takes his place as leader of the Myrmidons and with the bow of Philoctetes Pyrrhus takes Troy Mark Merlis has other plansWhat starts as a granted wildly unconventional retelling of the tale of Pyrrhus uickly morphs into something bigger via a detour to Sophocoles' Philoctetes an allegorical commentary on the AIDS crisis in 1980s America And it's just weird enough that it works beautifully This is a uietly powerful and unsettling story that starts with the Trojan War and ends up having a lot to say about fate and free will and gay identityWe're held at arm's length from our anti hero Pyrrhus for the majority of this story Self centered lazy and apathetic Pyrrhus is ostensibly difficult to root for And yet He gets under your skin as do all of Merlis's characters In that way this isn't necessarily an easy book to love It's deliberately provocative and graphic and it shows an ugliness to human nature that isn't easy to stare in the face But it's an even stronger achievement for that I think Merlis is able to take this dark and cynical story and infuse it with just enough hope and romance that you're compelled to see it through to the end with beautiful payoff once you doMerlis's prose is witty droll and surprisingly incisive It ranges from mildly amusing to positively breathtaking There were so many lines I had to stop and reread just to take in the full effect Passages like this Did they just not believe it the Trojans? Or did they believe it the way you believe you're going to die? With certainty and utter incredulity so perfectly balanced that they fight to a draw leaving the ignorant animal in you free to get out of bed in the morning And this The most terrifying thing that could happen to anyone to have to stand there and hear from someone who knew everything the worst you've ever thought about yourself If you're looking for a modern but slightly straightforward Greek mythology retelling try The Song of Achilles or Ransom or Alcestis or Bright Air Black If you're looking for a powerful gay epic that touches on the AIDS crisis try Angels in America or The Heart's Invisible Furies or Tell the Wolves I'm Home If your interests are niche enough that you're looking for a combination boy do I have some great news for you about An Arrow's Flight

  2. says:

    There are good novels and there are really good novels; then there are a transcendent few that should be read by everyone Too often these stories are not only not read by those cognizant of the very best stories gay literature has to offer they aren't even known about This is one of those novels I stumbled across the author and his novel while Googling something like The Top Ten Best Gay Novels Ever Written Fortunately I came across this site I had read four of the ten novels listed and alternate novels by a couple of the other listed authors Hooray for me Something about the short description Ed Sikov gave Mark Merlis' An Arrow's Flight caught my eye before I went out and bought Gods and Monsters because Brendan Fraser was hot in the movie or Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty although I had seen the tv adaption which I thought it was interesting but so British ie really slow moving with no good sex scenes Since the four novels I had read were topped by my favorite all time I'll love it until I die novel Dancer From the Dance I figured that Sikov might know what he was talking aboutOh sweet Jesus did he know what he was talking aboutThose of you who have lasted through this lengthy harangue will be eually thrilled to learn that this hilariously funny AU retelling of Sophocles' Philoctetes is a allegory for the AIDS crisis circa the 1980sAnyone still reading this critiue?On the Goodreads star scale this novel rates a 390 There are a lot of dumb readers who contribute to the big Goodreads site You want to know the top whinge about the book after saying how witty well written and funny the first three uarters of it is? The last uarter is sad Boo fucking hoo Rhett left Scarlett; Marie Antoinette lost her head; and Sherlock Holmes went over the Reichenbach Falls Life can be a bitch DealThe story if anyone still cares is that Pyrrhus aka Neoptolemus for some unknown reason is the son of demi god Achilles yes that Achillesthe one with Patroclus attached to his hip and minor princess Deidameia of Scyros He is therefore a uarter demi god and gay hustler doing a Magic Mike like routine at a gay bar in a large unnamed town on the outskirts of Troy sigh Yes that Troy Although the Trojan War has been raging for ten years it has been prophesied that Pyrrhus will end the war in the Greek's favor by breaching the walls of Troy and killing King Priam The novel's conceit is that despite the Greeks and Trojans going at it and getting nowhere fast the time frame is a circa late 1970's AU ish New York Wrap your minds around thatIn order to bring triumph to the Greek Army; glory upon his somewhat soiled self; and revenge on a father who always thought he was a pussy Pyrrhus must hustle in the sexiest possible way Hercules' bow which is currently in the possession of one Philoctetes Phil is a warrior abandoned by Odysseus on the Fire Island ish Island of Lemnos because he was bitten on the ankle by a snake and the bite won't heal at least never permanently Get the AIDS reference?After a night of sexless but real love with Philoctetes Pyrrhus still hasn't laid his hands on the bow but now knows where it is stashed The ins and outs of politics around the stricken Philoctetes and whether he needs to be carried to Troy along with the bow provides the central motif of the storyAll of this is a helluva lot funnier than it sounds and if you think being a gay uarter demi god is a piece of cake this just might disabuse you of that idea The scene of Hercules trying to self immolate himself into the heights of Mount Olympus is worth the price of admission aloneWhy Merlis chose to set his story in this Alternate Universe is beyond my poor powers to add or detract I can only say that as I came to the end of the novel I actually was really depressed the story wasn't longerOh and just to screw with the reader and his or her expectations view spoilerMerlis has the Greeks ignominiously lose the Trojan War so all their conniving was in vain hide spoiler

  3. says:

    This was one of the best re tellings I've ever read Pyrrhus the son of now dead Achilles is about to face up to his destiny That said he's been working as a stripper in a local gay bar can barely afford the rent and as such will likely turn to being a call boy and being the uarter divine son of a vaguely known water goddess isn't all that it's cracked up to beMerlis has blended ancient Troy and its legends by shifting them to a uasi contemporary setting; Achilles managed to lead the Myrmidons on his battleship into a hostile sacking of the suburbs of Troy prior to his death and Pyrrhus' roommate Leucon works as a copy boy in a Law Firm Bookstores sell The 12 Habits of Successful People as Learned from Heracles and people consider vacationing on Lemnos where ueer people roam freeWhat starts out as vaguely campy and uite titillating turns into a darker and intriguing novel as it progresses The inclusion of various gods heroes and bits and pieces of Greek myth is just wonderful it's like uncovering rich treasure re polished for a contemporary telling and at times the story moves uietly and yet impact fully into something stunning and movingTo wit the discussion of a vaguely mystical plague curse that has been spreading among the ueer spot that virus page 232 Now the sea lanes they charted have closed behind them All they discovered that had waited since the dawn of time to be found swallowed up No one will ever go that way again not even if the cure is found Partly because we will never own our bodies again as they did We are vectors now or vessels sources of transmission; our bodies belong to the unseen Well it has always been so we have always belonged to the Fates We just never thought the Fates so tinyI'll definitely be looking for of Merlis' work

  4. says:

    Mark Merlis' An Arrow's Flight is a really interesting read The narrative is built on the intriguing placement of the last years of the Trojan war in modern day and basing the convoluted plot line on the proposition that Pyrrhus son of Achilles is a young gay man working as a hustler in the CityAlthough this is clearly a novel written in the first decade of the 21st century all through An Arrow's Flight I kept thinking of the trailblazing gay novels of the 1980s Andrew Holleran's Dancer from the Dance and the splenetic Larry Kramer's Faggots; both of which I read as a young man caught up in the nightmare of the evolving AIDS crisis The re imagination of the story of Pyrrhus and Philoctetes as a metaphor avatar? of AIDS and its devastation of Gay America is sort of brilliant and Merlis' unblinking sharp edged tweaking of classical narrative is at times chillingMerlis' writing is wry and detached and while I know it's entirely intentional I found it disconcerting that I could never attach to Pyrrhus the ethereally beautiful redhead who wanders fecklessly through his life toward what might be his Fate It is hard for me to love a book when I can't love the characters and Merlis perversely doesn't seem to want us to love the characters again reminding me of Halloran and Kramer's books Pyrrhus is not bad not evil Bereft of any kind of real familial love Achilles would win no parenting prizes and Deidamea his mother is no June Cleaver it is no wonder he treats everyone he knows with amiable selfishness shunning any sort of emotional connection in favor of cashing in on his beauty in an urban gay world where beauty is the chief currencyThe plot thickens when Phoenix Achilles' eunuch valet arrives in the City to enlist Pyrrhus into the Greek army there it seems to fulfill his destiny It is from this moment that Pyrrhus begins to develop complexity as the epic childishness of the gods and the patent absurdity of the entire Trojan conflict are gradually picked apart We never see a battle; nothing epic happens But in the second half of the novel Pyrrhus surprises both the reader and himselfI never found an emotional core to the book until the end where a surprisingly emotional payoff written with a calculated lack of emotion it's not as if Merlis's style changes just my reaction to the narrative suddenly throws the rest of the book into context in a way that took me slightly by surprise This is about as unromantic a book as I've read in a long time and yet I found at last that my heart was finally touched by these unfortunate antiue figures dressed in modern gay costume Having felt skeptical and mildly irritated throughout most of the book I finally capitulated at the finale and let myself be manipulated as if the gods themselves were pulling the strings

  5. says:

    Some may think it a little too clever for its own good but I like this book a lot How can you not like a novel in which a gay demigod making a living as a hustler turns out to be essential to winning the Trojan war? All the homoeroticism leached out of most stagings or retellings of Greek myth is right here on the surface And eroticism sex lust desire love is very much on Merlis' mind It isn't enough for the Greeks to persuade Achilles' son Pyrrhus the aforementioned divine sex worker to enter the ranks Pyrrhus must also convince in the old fashioned horizontal way a middle aged gay warrior named Philoctetes to lend him the bow of Hercules That may sound dirty and it is Actually it's even dirtier than it sounds since the Greeks abandoned Philoctetes on their way to Troy after he suffered a snakebite that wouldn't heal Now they need him and they hire a hustler to lure him back into battle It's an allegory so I suppose its ok for me to say that Philoctetes is the embodiment of 70s style gay sexual liberation and the snakebite is well AIDS But Merlis is far too smart simply to leave it at that His largest concern isn't simply the abandonment of people snakebit by AIDS by morons afraid of contagion His judgment of those people is clear From start to finish however his is most vitally concerned with sex and especially with the emotional and social conseuences of disavowing it The Greeks' near fatal flaw is abandoning Philoctetes the emblem of sexual revolution Now they need him and his bow as does Pyrrhus And so Merlis suggests do we Recollecting the world before the snakebite the world from which Philoctetes was banished Merlis writes They had done everything that can be done with two or three or four bodiesThey were lawlessThey did it for everyone who had come before them living out their freedom for the generations that had been caged The real tragedy of the snakebite is letting the snake win

  6. says:

    Man that was awesome Loved it

  7. says:

    AN ARROW’S FLIGHT 1998 a novel by Mark Merils is brilliant and irreverent It disrespects conventional writing storytelling and history — and the author I think had great fun in doing so It is an existential inuiry about the human condition hidden within Greek Mythology and Gay Identity I read it not as a story about the Trojan War or the difficulties of being Gay in a warrior dominated world; but as a universal story about love sex lying subterfuge and the ultimate uestion Who am I? And then there is the uestion of destiny Are we just fooling ourselves with the idea of choice?The anti hero is Pyrrhus son of the great Achilles who just happens to be gay a stripper and a hustler who will fuck anyone; but then has one night of authentic love sans sex which impels him to try and thwart destiny and the gods Hmmm In a sense it is everyman’s or woman’s story I don’t have a clue as to why Merils chose to tell the story this way versus being straightforward Maybe he thought it would get a wider audience if he used subterfuge himself? Maybe he didn’t even know what he was doing—like Pyrrhus a callous defended whore who bungles into love?Perhaps the title is a clue as to motivation An ‘arrow’s flight’ refers to that fact once let loose an arrow is spent—it cannot change direction or go any farther than it can And those warriors it is aimed at for it is a weapon of war know this and will take a stand just out of range until “one man steps forward” pg272 and the battle ensues As the author states “sooner or later you have to give it up” BRILLIANT Five stars

  8. says:

    Blending Greek myth and contemporary gay life Merlis fully explores the uestions of life and lust desire and destiny through the misadventures of Pyrrhus Achilles' gay son Escaping palace life for 'the city' he finds that waiting tables doesn't pay the rent so he becomes a popular gogo boy then a hustler But the emptiness of paid sex leaves him indifferent and torn Will he find love amid so much base sexuality?In the second half of the novel Odysseus arrives to convince Pyrrhus to join the fight in the ten years long Trojan War Can he fulfill his dead father's mission find validation as the son of a demigod? But before he gains his father's famous armor a stop at Lemnos brings on a sidebar uest; to seduce and convince the elder Philoctetes to return to the war because the prophecy says soMerlis' insight into the delicate interplay between men truthful love and conscripted lust are part of what makes this a great story The clever interplay of ancient and contemporary settings adds to its charm The comparison of the Trojan War and the AIDS epidemic are clear and artfully told This Lambda Literary Award winner was also cited by the Publishing Triangle as one of the best gay novels

  9. says:

    This book This book What can I tell you about the story of this book? I'll tell you this I started it and immediately within the first few pages felt annoyed by it It wasn't uite what I expected It tells a story of a young man during the Trojan War except the characters all seem to have been transported to New York during the late 1970svery early 1980s For some reason I just didn't get it While I waited for my next book to be ready for pickup at the San Francisco Public Library I read a few chapters That's it I was gripped from then on I found the writing to be superior I found myself wishing to be an armful intelligent because I believe I barely caught some metaphors and philosophy This usually means I've missed Damn Still I was impressed at the story the plot the characters and the writing was beautifully elouent It's worth mentioning that there is plenty of nudity you may need to close your eyes while reading some parts gay sex and hilarious dialog Good luck and would love to hear what you think if you read this book If you've ever been to a gay bar from once to every night you'll find something of interest in this perspective

  10. says:

    It's the Trojan War updated as a reflection on gay issues The concept of Achilles' son Pyrrhus working as a dancerhustler is a good one but overall I didn't like this book When push comes to shove I'd rather read Sophocles

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