The Centaur by John Updike — 5 years ago
Despite its title, I was surprised by how myth-centric this novel is. It is the story of a high school science teacher and his student son. It is also a re-telling of the myth of the centaur Chiron who, wounded, gives his life (his immortality) to Prometheus.
This is a book I may appreciate more in the recollection. While reading it, I was distracted by the allegory. Sometimes, the mythical references were too vague or convoluted to catch and I had to refer to the index at the back to make sure I wasn’t missing something important. But at times, the myth is more than allegory, it takes over the story (Updike sometimes refers to the hero as Chiron and describes his hooves clacking on the school stairs, for instance) which I found jarring. Also, the hero was annoying, not just to me as a reader, but to his son, wife, and co-workers in the story. I can’t figure out how this ties in with the myth of Chiron.