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No Place Like Homer

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It is in [Elliot Hayes]'s journal that [Stephen Svoboda] presses the protagonist's identification with Odysseus, which might not have occurred to us otherwise, and spells out who should be whom in parallels from the story we see and the ancient epic. The device allows Svoboda to act as his own Cliff's Notes so that when Elliot tells us he aspires to kleos we have the correct spelling flashed before us and hear a definition: glory or renown, especially as achieved in death.Much of the humor in Odysseus DOA comes from two African-American characters, Maha Swenson (Maha McCain) and Resean Williams (Temar Underwood). Maha, with her pulled-down knit cap, is a creature of unashamed appetites, who craves McDonald's food and the advertising promise of that happy-meal franchise. Underwood's Resean is a linebacker-sized transsexual in heels, given to dispensing wry wisdom. This wisdom, we are reminded, equates Resean with Athena.That patient is the punk-haired Adam Collins (Adam Perabo), who will become Elliot's end-of-life lover, a step in his reach for kleos. He is not a male Penelope, however, an abandonment of the Odyssey conceit. Meanwhile his mother's bilious anger fuels the threat of lawsuits at the most trifling happenstances, which softens and humanizes Elliot's mother, leading to their reconciliation. What readies Elliot for that moment is his journey to the Underworld, the realm of dead, where he encounters his serene first lover, Ethan (Nathan Young), who counsels forgiveness.

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