Read The Suitors by Ben Ehrenreich Online


This audacious reimagining of The Odyssey finds Penny home alone while Payne, a modern-day Odysseus, gallivants around the world on battleships and attack helicopters, waging wars of conquest. A drinking, drugging crew of ne’er-do-well squatters surrounds Penny, eager for her attention. Even their most eyebrow-raising exploits can’t distract her, though, as she angrily pinThis audacious reimagining of The Odyssey finds Penny home alone while Payne, a modern-day Odysseus, gallivants around the world on battleships and attack helicopters, waging wars of conquest. A drinking, drugging crew of ne’er-do-well squatters surrounds Penny, eager for her attention. Even their most eyebrow-raising exploits can’t distract her, though, as she angrily pines for Payne. But when a mysterious man with suspicious origins arrives on the scene, the suitors’ precarious pecking order falls to pieces in the glow of Penny’s newly ignited ardor. Brutal, playful, sexy, and subversive, The Suitors is a classic of its own kind. ...

Title : The Suitors
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781582433356
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Suitors Reviews

  • karen
    2019-03-26 10:40

    not your mother's love story. unless she is the most disturbed mother on the block...i can do better than that. this book is marvelous. i can see a lot of people didn't like it very much here on, and that's a shame because i feel so strongly for this book. it (the book) keeps saying it is not a love story, but i think it is, to steal from that famous lolita review, "the only convincing love story of our time"... true, it opens with a scene of such unbelievable carnage that it is clear it ain't no english patient, but as it grows and twists and shudders along, it becomes unlovlily lovely; a shattered, mutant love story. it has flaws, but like any good true-life love story, the way you feel overall about someone, you love their flaws as much as the early morning kisses or watching-the-sunset moments. this book and i are like a john hughes movie, and none of the bad reviews shall keep us apart! but we have a totally open relationship, so i won't be mad if any of you take a turn with it....

  • Oriana
    2019-04-23 07:41

    I'm putting this on the new-new-new-thing shelf, even though it's not that new, because it is similar to all these new-new types of books happening now, which if I was more into theory or had gotten a Master's, I'd probably know the proper pedantic terms for. The point is, it's written fairly self-consciously, there are scattered meta bits and winks at the audience, it's clear Ben Ehrenreich is very smart and wants this book to be very unusual. And it absolutely is! But although I've got an extremely high tolerance for this kind of trickery and intellectualizing, The Suitors did feel a little contrived at times, a little forced. Let me go back a bit. The opening sequence is wonderful, a very slippery picture of our hero and heroine, who start as characters outside of time, become more focused and detailed and personalitied, and then become more nebulous again, become a bit everyman and everywoman. I'm not doing a great job of describing this, but they're Payne and Penny, and they're at once specific characters with sketched personality traits and also meldings of all different kinds of characters, all of whom are united by the fact of falling in love with each other. (That's the best I can really do without quoting; have I made my point yet about intellectual trickery?)(Actually, that was all Chapter 2. The first chapter, which is also the last chapter, is a very explicit snapshot view of everyone quite bloodily and gruesomely dead.) Well, Payne and Penny get married and go off to live in the country in a little cabin. But Payne isn't happy with a little cabin to house his queen; he starts making little improvements and minor additions, then bigger and bigger and crazier things. It becomes clear that he wants to build a palace (because what else is fit for a queen?), and then the book enters its next phase, because skittering around the outskirts of their property is a nebulous number of other people, kids I guess, in the teenager sense, who spend all day huffing paint and having sex. Well so Payne enlists them all to help him erect his edifice. He is a ruthless taksmaster, and after the palace is built, they start going on raids to fill it with things. Soon it's filled with enough food and furniture and supplies and jewels and money to last several lifetimes, but they keep raiding, kind of just to kill people. Then they mine the mountain and start a smelting plant to make guns with, but when Payne tells them that they have to go fight in a war, everyone quits. Payne leaves anyway, leaves his Penny walled up in her castly, leaves his minions behind, and goes off to war.Thus begins the next phase, which is the bulk of the book, where Penny, now pregnant, goes on to lead her bitter, furious, disassociated life with the minions. Did I mention that every single one of them, boys and girls alike, are destructively and totally in love with Penny? Yeah, that's the only reason anyone was doing what Payne told them to do all that time. I mean, they all couple and uncouple amongst one another, but each is slavering at all times for the merest hint of affection or even attention from Penny. And so it goes: they have lavish dinner parties, do inordinate amounts of drugs, fight terribly with one another, worship Penny, live their angry, unsatisfied little lives. That's all the summarizing I can handle. Here's the thing. As with most of this type of book, this motherfucker can write. There are large swaths of great beauty, be it philosophical asides, stunning descriptions of scenery, dissertations about love and hate and being and non-, snaps of great dialogue, brutal scenes of sex and murder and mayhem. The book is mostly very beautiful to read. But there's a lack throughout... I don't know if it's nothing more than a yearning for some kind of traditional narrative structure, or a need for some little bits of explanation for some of the more impossible things (characters sometimes go months without eating, for example, or swim entire oceans without stopping), or what, but it's all just sometimes... unsettling. I bought this because Ehrenreich has a story in a forthcoming McSweeney's collection that is just mindblowingly incredible. (Plus his mom is the lady who wrote Nickel and Dimed!) It really is fascinating book, totally unique and strange and brutal and beautiful, but honestly? The short story was better than all of this. Hey Ben? Can you turn that into a novel please??

  • Greg
    2019-04-21 15:50

    Starts off so strong, but somewhere in the second half of the book some of the momentum disappears from the book. The writing itself is quite good, just the focus seems to get lost somewhere in the authors attempt to return back to the start of the book. I'm looking forward to giving this author another chance.

  • Kate
    2019-04-17 10:36

    A wonderful, imaginative, and lyrically masterful, modern retelling of one of my favorite epic journeys of all times: The Odyssey. My favorite character in this story was Penny. She was the most interesting and human character this book had to offer. She has flaws, she doesn't wait around forever for Payne to return, and she is most certainly her own person. She's a demanding female presence that I could really relate to. For this alone I would of given this book 3 stars.However, it's the lyricism of the book that made me bump it up to 4 stars. Every word that's written on these pages are needed. It's as if Ben Ehrenreich went to his word tree and selected the ripest word and transformed it into an image that unraveled itself to be this book. For a first book, this was a very ambitious topic that was executed remarkably well. The only downfall was that this book wasn't as good as some of his shorter pieces that I have read in other literary journals, specifically McSweeny’s, and for this reason alone was why I couldn’t of given it 5 stars. That and it’s not the kind of book one could read over and over again, well at least I couldn’t.

  • Brent Legault
    2019-04-02 14:49

    This book got under my skin in the way that a TB test gets under the skin. It made my reading bone all red and inflamed. (That sounded nastier than I meant it to sound.) I have a peeve against novels and stories that are plagued with too many, well, characters. That is, characters that are so obviously mugging for the camera, acting like characters, padding out their resumes with quirks, making nuisances out of themselves. Too bad. I like Ehrenreich's articles, at least the few I've read in The Believer, but this book, this book just, it just, it made me, ooooh, it made me so angry. And here I have to admit that I only read to page 102 before putting it down for the last time, forever

  • Aran
    2019-03-31 09:43

    So, it's interesting. Worth a read. But... it's got no guts to it. I mean, actually lots of people die, so there's plenty of guts. By guts I mean... feeling? I mean raison d'etre apart from just messin' around with words? Which is great, of course, and he writes a damn good sentence. But... shouldn't there be something more?

  • Melanie
    2019-04-12 15:45

    First, I'll add my voice to the chorus: Goodreads should include half-star ratings. 'Cause this is a 3.5-star book, a melancholy but zippy stab at the Odyssey. The prose and some of the vignettes remind me of Donald Barthelme and Donald Antrim (particularly The Hundred Brothers), and I like Ehrenreich's style/sensibility.

  • Jaclyn
    2019-03-26 07:40

    The book starts fairly strong, with an original narrator and some great lines/setups. Then it nosedives into trying to be even edgier but 1) totally fails 2) loses the plot 3) flattens the characters 4) is boring.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-03-29 15:48

    I seem to have a minority opinion on this one--a lot of people say that they love the opening chapters, which are 'lyrical' and 'searing' and 'poetic,' but dislike the middle chapters which are 'gimmicky' and, for want of a better word, soulless. And then the last chapters pick up again. I had exactly the opposite experience. The opening chapters read like the cheesiest possible American Literary Novel, in which two lower-class people fall in love for no very obvious reason, except that they both have genitals. Drug use! Sex! Suddenly we're in Love. I'm willing to give Ehrenreich the benefit of the doubt here: I think he's being facetious. The narrator's repeated claims that this is not a love story are in fact true. This is not a love story. It is a mockery of a love story, which points to the more important allegory and comedy of colonialism, war and hatred that fills the middle three quarters of the book, and does so with great panache and many giggles. Once Payne and Penny have fallen in Lurv, they ride off into the sunset. Payne proceeds to force the 'native' population (here, modernized lotus-eaters) into servitude. They build the city state that Payne rules; he retains their loyalty because he's stronger than them, gives them drugs, and lets them ogle/fall in lurv with his hot wife. If that doesn't sound familiar, think about it a bit more the next time you sit down with a bottle of wine to watch a Scarlett Johansson movie. Then Payne heads off to war, Penny and her insufferable child (who gets a very funny, five page Telemachiad towards the end) pine for him, the 'suitors' live in decadence and the hope that Penny will one day come to visit them... and, if you've read the wikipedia entry on the Odyssey, you'll know how this ends. There is a love story here, between the mysterious visitor, Miss, and Penny. But it's boring and doesn't add all that much to the book, except to stretch it out a bit (note that Miss might just be an allegorical stand in for Penny's longing for Payne, and/or her hatred of him). It's all very well written. The middle bits are what I imagine a George Saunders novel would look like, and are thus fabulous: they touch the real world. The early and late chapters are like the sort of thing written by rich, hormonal teenagers under the impression that impoverished people are more interesting/intelligent/virtuous than the rich, and that writing about them and their fuckings is somehow character building. They primarily touch themselves.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-31 09:46

    "In this fresh, frenzied, and fantastical re-imagining of The Odyssey…” Penny and Payne are the star crossed lovers; the suitors are a group of strange individuals that worship Penny. it is peculiar and bizarre as written by the book jacket writer, and I rushed through it, thinking there was something more that could be there but wasn’t. the first chapter was gory and icky; the second was good. chapter 2 is entitled, “Starting Over or Before the Collapse of the State or Penny and Payne: Competing Mythic Hypotheses as to the origins Thereof.” I can’t resist a writer who thinks like this. he then gives a sad version of how they met, the real one apparently, and then other versions, and all of them are true per the author. a really nice style and voice that then disappeared. I have to learn not to look at the author’s pictures and expect them to set my soul on fire….i would read another book of his. ultimately his characters are like the modernized stylish Romeo and Juliet characters of the Baz Luhrman movie, everyone trying to escape reality through drugs, adventure, love, etc. not my favorite…

  • Taylor
    2019-03-25 13:28

    I wanted so much to like this book, because its premise was so ambitious; however, I just didn't feel that Ehrenreich was up to the task he set for himself. For one thing, even something loosely based on The Odyssey should be rich with allusion, and this... wasn't. It didn't seem aware, in fact, of any real tradition. Instead, Ehrenreich relies on verbal gymnastics and countless gimmicks--not the least of which is a sort of gratuitous griminess--to propel the narrative. Throughout the novel, he tries to convince the reader over and over that this story is important, that these characters are important, and yet I'd rather be shown than told, something which I didn't feel ever happened. Despite my disappointment, this wasn't a bad read. It simply wasn't the great one it could have been in other hands.

  • Marsha
    2019-03-24 11:41

    Homer’s The Odyssey has been re-imagined as a bitter reel of love and hate between Payne and Penny, stand-ins for Ulysses and his long-suffering, patient wife Penelope. Set in modern times, Penny’s suitors are a rag-tag bunch of drifters, wastrels, substance abusers and low-lifes. The one thing that unites them is a fascination with the green-eyed Penny, a fascination that proves as deadly as it is mesmerizing.Passionate, blunt, abrasive and occasionally incoherent with longing, frustration and sexual desire, Mr. Ehrenreich’s work is a searing look into the roots of madness and obsession as well as slanting a fresh light onto an age-old story. Told from various viewpoints, including that of the doomed suitors for Penny’s hand, we get the picture of a world teetering on the edge of disintegration but radiant with unexpected spots of beauty.

  • Adam Weitzman
    2019-04-22 15:39

    This guy is an extraordinary talent. He really is, read some of his shorts in MCSWEENEYS. They are powerful, lyrical, imaginative, and full of so much heart they have brought tears.The Suitors starts off great, with a unique voice and powerful chugging sentence structure. We like the characters and even when we don't, they are still the coolest kids on the block. However, the lack of a familiar plot/structure kills the book in the middle. It becomes very unclear what the character's objectives are, and the conflict dosen't seem to ramp up. Instead it declines into a muddy pool of boring.But it's worth a read just to see what a budding young master can do with words on the page.SOMEDAY HE WILL WRITE A MASTERPIECE I'M SURE. BUT THIS IS NOT IT.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-19 15:57

    I've been wanting to read this novel since I read a short story by Ehrenreich in McSweeneys about an odd couple meeting in an aquarium in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Although it's far from my idea of the perfect novel and I can see how it might be construed as pretentious, I think Ehrenreich has a very unique, and poetic voice. I love the way this book and the short story I read seem to teeter somewhere between a surreal nightmare, a daydream, and everyday reality. It's not for everyone, but if you are looking for something different and you appreciate the craft of writing, it might be just right for you!

  • Michael
    2019-04-23 15:31

    I was really disappointed by this novel. I heard of Ben Ehrenreich in the 2004 Best Nonrequired Reading from his story "What You Eat," which was instantly one of my favorites. I was waiting for his first novel, which I bought in hardcover once i came out - something I really do instead of waiting for the paperback. The story never went anywhere. I spent the entire length of the book trying to figure out who the characters were. It was more of a writing experiment than a well-written novel.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-04-08 14:38

    This is a novel whose writing stands far above its plot and characters. What really made this novel for me was that the author̕s self-control when it came to his nearly grotesque characters. Also, his games are not played at the reader̕s expense; we play along, and enjoy the novel as much as the author seems to. But beneath the games is a deep sadness, a very dark view of human nature. The lightness of Ehrenreich's prose in the darkness of his vision makes a nice combination.

  • Nick
    2019-04-05 14:40

    After an American Literary institution (Delillo's 'Libra') and a best selling populist (Douglas Preston's 'Monster...') both fail to catch my interest, I'm hoping Ehrenrich's Odyssey inspired debut will do something for me...Ehrenreich shows promise. I'll be on the lookout for his next novel. This debut's scope perhaps overshadowed the execution.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-27 11:45

    I wish I could give negative stars...that's how much I didn't like this book. I gave it a good shot reading all the way to page 136 (almost half way I think) and I couldn't take it anymore. Violent, preachy, and just plain annoying. Magical realism at it's absolute worst. Now I've got to go read The Odyssey just to feel better.

  • julieta
    2019-04-07 07:58

    I loved the strangeness of the whole story, yet with very familiar elements that made it somehow easy to follow. It gets a little frustrating towards the end, but the writing is great, and it keeps you going to see what happens... or how it gets to the end it announces from the beginning of the book. Looking forward to more from him.

  • kathryn
    2019-04-04 12:42

    Not sure. Liked bits of it and ignoring the Odyssey theme from the journey standpoint to the waiting standpoint. Have decided i'm not a big fan of violence in movies or books. (who is really a "fan" of it though?) Needless to say, it puts me off.

  • Amy Grace
    2019-03-29 07:28

    An interesting telling of the Penelope side of the story.

  • Tashara
    2019-04-23 10:29

    This has got to be one of my most favorite books of all time!!

  • Shie
    2019-04-01 14:46

    Sometimes you read a book not because of the plot but because of how beautiful it is written. This is that.

  • Lara
    2019-04-20 10:38

    A bit gimmicky I thought. More of a flourishy show-off than a good story. The characters were too...character-y to actually like. But then, it's not as if The Odyssey is full of warmth.

  • Marieke
    2019-03-25 14:56

    Very wittily written, a really cool intake on the Odyssey-concept.The ending was a little depressing, but I guess we could've all seen that one coming.

  • kirsten
    2019-03-31 07:28

    really enjoyed it.

  • Natalia
    2019-03-26 13:39

    i loved this book so much and recommend it to everyone.

  • erin
    2019-03-29 08:48

    This book was wild. It usually made my head spin.