Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 1, Number 3
Don't you love it when a book makes you laugh out loud? I read a lot, and over the years it's gotten harder to find something that will really crack me up. Gods Behaving Badly was so funny. Maybe it's just because I'm a Classics geek, but I LOVED this book. The premise is that the Greek gods, though no one believes in them any more, have relocated from Olympus to London. They live together in a poky house and, though they are still responsible for their traditional tasks, have begun to lose their power. They've had to take jobs to support themselves, but don't really excel at it. (Except for Aphrodite, who is in high demand as a phone-sex operator.)
400 years living in the same house have taken their toll, and the gods spend a fair bit of time sniping and backbiting each other. These are the best bits of the book, actually, and highly amusing - especially if you're familiar with the Greek pantheon. In one scene, Artemis interrupts Ares at his work. He is muttering, "This War on Terror isn't producing enough casualties. Bringing in Iran is the obvious choice, but I don't think they've got enough firepower yet. I wonder if I could somehow antagonise Japan?" And Hermes, to a mortal: "Did you shag [Apollo]? I wouldn't worry about that. Everybody shags him. Even I've shagged him. That was during a very boring decade."
The novel is centred around Artemis and Apollo, for the most part. (I liked this: Artemis was the focus of my 4th year Directed Readings course at UVic.) The other deities have roles of varying importance, although some only get a mention. Demeter appears in a rather poor light, and Hestia doesn't appear at all. It's an important omission (considering their domestic difficulties) but the worst crime is the way the author depicts Athena: as a hovering, anxious, self-important fusspot.
Aside from a few flaws, it was an enjoyable read. Hilarious in parts, thought-provoking in others. Like many novels, I felt it was off to a good start and had the scope to be about twice the length it actually is: the author is onto something. Unfortunately, the conflict resolves rather quickly, and the novel wraps up before you're quite ready to be done with it.
And as a reader, if you have to have a problem with a book, that's a good one to have.