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2018

NORTH CAROLINA L I T E R A R Y RE V I E W

COURTESY OF BOOKMARKS

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FIFTY SHADES OF MINOTAUR a review by George Hovis Steven Sherrill. The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, Publisher, 2016.

Currently on the English faculty of the State University of New York at Oneonta, GEORGE HOVIS earned his PhD In English from UNC Chapel Hill. He has taught courses in creative writing and American literature and has written scholarly articles on such writers as Tennessee Williams and Fred Chappell (for example, his article on Chappell’s eco-poetry in NCLR 2011). Additionally, Hovis has conducted interviews with writers Tom Wolfe, Lee Smith, and, for NCLR, Wiley Cash in 2013 and Clyde Edgerton in 2017. Also, in the NCLR 2012 film issue, read his essay on movies that should be made from North Carolina literature. Author of Vale of Humility: Plain Folk in Contemporary North Carolina Fiction (University of South Carolina Press, 2007), Hovis is currently working on a novel that explores desegregation in a North Carolina cotton mill town in the 1970s. STEVEN SHERRILL is currently an Associate Professor of English and Integrative Arts at Penn State University in Altoona. He is a graduate from UNC Chapel Hill and earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction in 2002. His first novel, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break (John F. Blair, 2000; reviewed by Hovis in NCLR 2001), is translated into eight languages. Sherrill’s second and third novels, Visits From the Drowned Girl (2004) and The Locktender’s House (2008), were both published by Random House. In 2010, CW Books released his poetry collection, Ersatz Anatomy.

After sixteen years, novelist and poet Steven Sherrill returns to the travels of his mythic character “M,” whom he first introduced in the acclaimed novel The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break (2000). In that debut’s revisionist mythology, we are told of the Minotaur’s origins in the dim past of legend – how on the island of Crete five millennia ago “heroic” Theseus pursued diplomacy rather than battle, allowing the Minotaur to escape the labyrinth and wend his way through eternity. In The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time, M has left the urban/ suburban South for the Rust Belt of central Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, in this sequel he finds himself still surrounded by a constellation of delightfully comic oddballs and outcasts, who by turns either do not see M’s difference, puzzle over it, or use it as an opening to abuse. Consider, for example, Smitty, the blacksmith at Old Scald Village, where M is employed as a Civil

ABOVE Steven Sherrill speaking at the

Bookmarks Festival, Winston-Salem, NC, 10 Sept. 2016

War reenactor; Smitty routinely greets M by sneaking up behind him and making the sound of sizzling flesh while shaping his fingers into the form of a branding iron. By contrast, the Guptas, Indian-American proprietors of the Judy-Lou Motor Lodge, have created a home for M and include him as part of their family. Danny Tanneyhill, a chainsaw artist, is fascinated with the Minotaur and seeks to capture him in wood, without realizing how such displays are inappropriate and exploitative. As in the earlier novel, The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time explores the pain of isolation and the longing for connection and community. Desire for intimacy this time, though, is more fully blooded, and the novel brings to life the libidinal comic ebullience of an ancient Greek satyr play. Sexual desire and innuendo abound. M discovers that his horns are both awkward and the source of attraction. Their

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2018  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2018  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

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