Dec 26, 2000

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

This modern-day Odyssey/Sullivan's Travels is a pleasant diversion. But the question that kept nagging me in the back of my mind was: O Brother, Why art thou? Using the myth structure for a new story is a fine technique, but you have to create something truly new. Otherwise it is literally paint-by-numbers. Here the pleasure is limited to recognizing the basic associations: look, there's the sirens, there's the cyclops, etc.

When you use a myth as a foundation for a story you are writing, the first thing you must do is look at the theme. Ask yourself: what can this classic story tell us about our world now? How does flipping it on its head create a whole new perspective?