The story's not so original--after all, Homer created it centuries ago! It's the story
of Pyrrhus, son of the mega-warrior and god Achilles, and his role in the Trojan War, a
conflict that has raged on and on and on--for ten long years, with no end in sight, it seems.
However, the oracle had predicted that if the Greeks are to win and reclaim their lovely
Helen, it would be because Pyrrhus lives up to his destiny. The problem here, in Mark
Merlis' “An Arrow's Flight,” is that Pyrrhus is quite happy, thank you, in his role as a
male stripper in a gay bar far from Troy, and he is not the least interested in fulfilling that
destiny! Alas, he is persuaded--after all, the oracles are never wrong! And in working all
this out, Merlis has cleverly included a number of issues that are pertinent to today's
society--gay or not--such as AIDS. This novel is indeed an odyssey of relevance, at the
same time incorporating some piercing (Achillean?) satire and open comedy. Underneath
this merriment is a serious undertaking, too. It is a novel, adult in many aspects, of
course!, that takes an earlier tale and brings it home in full relevancy.
This report prepared by Bill Hobbs