Dec 29, 2008

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. What would the ancient gods of Greece and Rome do in today's 21st Century world? Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, a phone sex operator; Apollo, the God of the Sun, a television psychic; Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and Chastity, a dog walker.

The gods have weakened since their days on high at Mt. Olympus, and they are all crammed into a dilapidated home in London, getting on one another's nerves. The conflict truly begins one night during a taping of Apollo's psychic show where Eros shoots a love arrow into Apollo's heart, leaving him powerless against his love for the next person entering his view. Unfortunately, that person happens to be a mortal named, Alice, who cleans the theater where the show is taped. Alice and her friend Neil, who both love one another but are too afraid to make a move, become the center of conflict in the gods' world.

What has been fascinating about the Greek and Roman gods for many centuries has been their human-like qualities. While they are powerful beings ruling over the human world, they are much like the average mortal in their desires, weaknesses, and arrogance. Phillips easily highlights the human-like failings of these gods and accentuates those failings with "unlikely" professions for them in the modern world.

Watching these gods cope with the 21st Century is a hilarious delight, but even more delightful is Phillips' use of language. From Aphrodite's bottom "bouncing like two hard-boiled eggs dancing a tango" (page 89) to Phillips' description of Neil as a teenager, "an ugly, spotty, skinny-arsed spoddy minger" (page 88). The dialogue is witty as well: "'. . .you'd better come quick. I've got a god passed out on my kitchen floor and I think the world's about to end.' (page 213)."

One of the best scenes in this book comes when Apollo finds Zeus in the upper floors of the house staring at the television much like a zombie would. He's lifeless, but still a god able to stand on his own and still strike down mortals with lightning. Reading this section brought to life the dilemma that often faces many of us, do we unwind too often in front of the television rather than through more challenging activities, like games, competition, reading, and exercise? Is this section a commentary on the lives we continue to lead now, watching television, zoning out, and withdrawing into ourselves away from society. But, I digress.

With an interesting cast of characters from a Christian Eros to a drunk, DJ in Dionysus, Phillips uses her cast of characters to dramatically set the stage for a modern day Greek comedy of errors and missed chances. Even readers who do not have a firm background in mythology will enjoy this book.

If you think this book sounds interesting, you should check out Hachette Group's discussion with the author, Marie Phillips, on Blog Talk Radio.

***Contest***

Hatchette Group offered to give away 5 copies of the book to my readers with U.S. and Canadian addresses only.

For those international readers, I am offering my gently used copy, so please inform me that you are an international entrant.

For one entry, leave a comment here telling me who your favorite Greek/Roman god/goddess is and why.

For a second entry, blog about the contest or place it in your sidebar and leave a comment here telling me where I can find it.

Deadline is January 5, Midnight EST.

Check out these other Reviews:
Booking Mama
Books Books and more Books!
Diary of an Eccentric
Book-a-Rama
A Reader's Respite
Booklorn
The 3R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
Sophisticated Dorkiness
A Life in Books
Becky's Book Reviews
Fizzy Thoughts
The Boston Bibliophile
A Novel Menagerie
As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves

57 comments:

Jenners said...

Oh this sounds like a fun book! I love when authors get creative ideas like this! I must say, I've always been partial to Aphrodite (I think I wanted to be her from a picture I saw in a book when small), but I could be misremembering the stories. It has been AGES since I read the myths that so much is based on. My parents had this great big old book of mythology that I read when I was little but it has been a long time. This would be a great way to revisit them!

Serena said...

You may not like aphrodite in this book. LOL Thanks for entering though.

violetcrush said...

Funniest book you read in a long time huh? lately i don't find anything very funny, in books that is. This one sounds really different...

As for my fav greek/ Roman god, I don't have much idea about that.

the only god I know is Aphrodite, that too from the cartoons I keep watching. I think it was from Duck Tales where Launch Pad falls in love with a woman name Aphrodite. I can't be sure though, it has been so long :)

Serena said...

Violet: I remember Duck Tales...and I think you are right about Launch Pad and Aphrodite. Thanks for entering.

carolsnotebook said...

My favorite was always Athena. I'm not sure why, except that I always think of her as strong and independent. I can't really say if that's true or not though.

Serena said...

Carol: I would say that's relatively accurate.

Florinda said...

I have this book currently in TBR Purgatory myself, so I'm not entering the contest - but I just might move my copy way up in the stacks based on your great review! I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, babe. I've got this posted over at Win a Book for you. Thanks for the e-mail, as always. Those e-mails make life MUCH easier!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hachette rules.

You got another post about this. Just to make sure it's at its most visible.

Anna said...

I loved this book! Great review! Oh, obviously you don't need to enter me. ;)

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Susan: Thanks for all of your hard work.

Anna: I can't wait to see your review.

meg89 said...

I always loved the heroes more than the gods, especially Achilles. I've heard about this book a couple times and am looking forward to reading it.

meg89 said...

I also posted your contest in my sidebar. I'm actually running a contest right now as well, for The Time Traveler's Wife. Anyway, here's the link:
http://literarymenagerie.blogspot.com/

windycindy said...

What a delightful sounding book! My favorite Goddess is Hestia/Vesta because she is the Goddess of the home/hearth! Please enter my name in your drawing. I really appreciate it!
Many thanks.....Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Serena said...

Meg89: Thanks for popping over for the contest; you'll like this book as well because there is a hero.

WindyCindy: I think a lot of people forget about Hestia.

donnas said...

Oh I have been wanted to read this so many good things have been said about it.

I have always been partial to Bacchus. How can you go wrong as the god of wine and theatre.

Amy said...

It's been a long time since I've read or thought about the gods and goddesses, but Athena was my favorite. This does sound like a fun read!
mypalamyATgmailDOTcom

Literary Feline said...

This does sound like a fun book! I am glad you enjoyed it, Serena.

It probably wouldn't count if I named Coyote from the Native American cultures, would it? I've always been fascinated by Native American mythology and the Coyote plays such a prominent role in so many tales. He's not always very nice, but occasionally he can be quite funny and those are the stories I am most drawn to.

Athena is probably my favorite Greek goddess. It could have something to do with her being the goddess of literature. :-) Perhaps that's also why I am drawn to Neptune on the Roman mythology side as well.

Please do enter me in your contest. Thank you!

literaryfeline@gmail.com

Sue said...

Oh. It sounds like a good read. Please enter me in your contest. As for my favorite god/goddess, my favorite has always been Athena. But then again, it was probably due to the fact that I just finish reading the Orestia.
okibi_insanity(at)yahoo(dot)com

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Gotta read this book. LOVED the title right away - very catchy. And your review is most enticing. OK put me down for one vote - I'll get something up on Free Spirit blog tomorrow and shout you a perma-holla for the second one.

Marvin D. Wilson said...

OK so I forgot to say what my favorite mythical god is. It's Loki, the Greek God of mischief. I think he's cool. Any God who loves a good prank is my kinda god. And one of my all time favorite movies is The Mask where Jim Carrey plays this simpleton who turns into Loki and does all this fabulous cartoon character stuff when he puts on an ancient mask he finds floating amongst garbage in the river.

Serena said...

Marvin: Thanks for sharing your favorite god with us, though he is a Norse god and not greek or roman.

Toni said...

No need to enter me. I've got a copy. I really liked your review. You had me a the first sentence. I sure need funny these days. :)

K Giardina said...

Please add me to the contestant list - sounds entertaining!

My favorite would have to be Nyx -winged goddess with shadowy/black wingsm also called "swift Night". She only came out at dusk, spending days in the Underworld.

According to Homer, Nyx was the only goddess that Zeus feared, "all-subduing Night".

kim dot giardina at gmail.com

gautami tripathy said...

Ask me about Indian Goddesses. I can answer that better. *grin*

But who can forget Aphrodite? Not me!

Count me in. And you know I live in India!

gautami.tripathy[at]gmail.com

BTW, I post my poetry here:

rooted

Valorie said...

I hold the Greek/Roman gods very dear and close my heart. :D That's why it's so hard to settle on just one... But I think I am going to say Bacchus on this one. As the God of festivities and decadence, I can't help but always be amused about the stories and follies surrounding him.

I blogged about this contest:
http://morbid-romantic.net/2008/12/29/book-giveaways-1229-0104

Valorie
morbidromantic@gmail.com

Serena said...

Nyx, now I'm blushing because I had no idea such a goddess existed.

Gautami: Thanks for giving me the link.

Crystal Adkins said...

My fav. would be Loki... mischief is my middle name lol!
crystal72206@yahoo.com

Marvin D. Wilson said...

OK I'm down for two votes.

http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/2008/12/contest-and-interview.html

Ihopeiwinihopeiwinihopeiwinihopeiwin...

Stephanie said...

I really, really want a copy of this book!! Please enter me in your contest!! Thank you!!

Nece said...

Sounds like a fun read!!

My favorite Greek Goddess is Hera. She is maternal and tries to be a good wife, but circumstances continually challenge her until the MamaBEAR side comes out. Then she gets a bad rep. Poor Hera! =) She's just someone I can identify with easily.

Thanks for the contest, what fun!

kariteimo@gmail.com

Alessandra said...

Hi! This sounds like a very fun book...

Like many others, my favourite goddess has always been Athena, maybe because of all the crazy gods in the Iliad she seemed the most sensible one.

I am an international entrant (thank you for offering your copy to international readers, it's very generous of you).

Alessandra
outofblue1[at]gmail.com

Serena said...

Alessandra: I like to pass on my good copies when I can!

grayskyeyes said...

I always liked Athena; I enjoyed the idea of a goddess of wisdom. Not so sure about the war part, but I liked her anyway.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Alessandra said...

I forgot to add that I blogged about your giveaway here: http://alessandrasplace.blogspot.com/2008/12/end-of-year-giveaways.html

Marie said...

My favorite goddess was always Aphrodite because in the Roman mythology she is Venus and that's my first name -- and who can go wrong with the goddess of love :-)

vmlay@artsci.wustl.edu

Stephanie said...

Ooops! Personally, I've always been partial to the goddesses. Aphrodite and Athena especially!

bridget3420 said...

I'd have to say Hypnos because I love to sleep!

Thanks for the contest! Happy New Year!

J.Danger said...

Hey Serena! You won the James Patterson book from my blog! Congrats!

email me your address, so that I can get it out to you.

Thanks!

Jessica

p.s. can this be my entry comment? LOL

naida said...

this does sound really good, great review :)
please enter me for your contest
naidascrochetATyahoo.com
thanks :)
my favorite Greek God has to be Apollo, just because his name always stood out, he was the sun god and played music. And he was a twin.

http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

ddurance said...

Hades....he's the god of the dead and rules the Underworld. How cool is that? LOL

Deidre
deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Shana said...

Serena, no need to enter me, but your comment about this book being the funniest you've read for a while really makes me want to read it!

I received The Green Beauty Guide a few days ago. Thanks so much! I'll post it in my MM next week!

Shana
Literarily

Teddy Rose said...

No need to enter me. I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2008/12/this-weeks-giveaways-galore_30.html

Belinda said...

This book sounds hysterically funny. I love the descriptive quotes in your review, great imagery! My favourite goddess is Persephone because she teaches an important lesson about the cycle of life. I am an international reader, from Australia and I greatly appreciate the chance to win your used copy. Thank you!!!

avalonne83 said...

Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

NovelEagle said...

Great review of what portends to be an entertaining read. Having worked with the Greek pantheon for many years I found that Appolo's twin sister Artemis the free-spirited, sure-shot hunter appealed most to my feminist spirit.

avalonne83 said...

Dear Serena,

Thank you for letting me know what I forgot...

My favourite god is Ares, the god of war. Probably, this is due to the fact that my name in real life is Martina, a Latin name meaning "dedicated to the god of war". You know, Latin gods are Greek gods named differently...

And, yes, I am an international reader -- from Italy. Here is my e-mail address:

avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

Please enter me in the contest. Thanks a lot!

MJ said...

Don't know much about mythology but I guess I'd want to be Zeus! Wasn't he the "top dog"?

Margay said...

I'm not as proficient in mythology as I should be, either, but I have to go with Aphrodite because what's not to like about the Goddess of Love?

Stacie said...

My favourite goddess is Athena because she is the goddess of literature!

stacie_vaughan@hotmail.com

Julie said...

This does sound like a fun one, would love to read it! I have to go with Athena, also. I put your giveaway in my giveaway sidebar-thanks!
http://julyso4463.blogspot.com/

Grateful Gramma said...

Don't remember enough about the Greek and Roman gods to have a favorite but I hope that doesn't disqualify me from entering the contest!

LazyDaisy0413 said...

I'd love to win this book. It sounds great. My favourite god/goddess would be Apollo or Artemis. They have many great qualities, but I like them mainly because they are twins like me and my sister.

mparke[at]shaw[dot]ca

Amanda said...

My favourite would Athena. Hard not to like someone who was born out of her fathers head! She always sounds like a strong women(goddess) too.

I would love to be included in the international draw.

debbiesworld said...

Ohhh...I've been wanting to read this book. It's hard to chose but I guess I would pick Aphrodite. I mean who wouldn't want to be in her shoes for at least a day. :)

Marg said...

I am going to go with Atlas - the idea of having to carry around the world on your shoulders. Ouch!

I am in international reader!

Amy said...

This sounds like fun. I'll go with Gaia, since I've always considered myself an Earth-mother type.