Achilles in California is a modern retelling of the Achilles legend, based closely on the Iliad of Homer. Set in a California high school in late 1963, the story centers on the football team, and the players and coaches have their analogues in Homer’s epic. Mark Panokotonkis, 'Achilles', is the campus hero, and Larry Terhune, 'Patroklos’, is his diametric opposite, the pimply, scruffy, despised and self despising manager of the team. The gradual coming together of these two opposites, the bonding of Achilles and Patroklos, is the unusual story that unfolds, ultimately precipitating a personal crisis for both boys that coincides with a national crisis. The story ends on November 22, 1963, the real death of a real hero marking the symbolic death of a mock hero.
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Published November 3, 2009
Literature & Fiction.