Grendel

by John Gardner

My favorite thing — not book, thing! — in the entire world is Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, which takes the myth of the Herakles-slain monster Geryon and turns it on its head, creating an epic romance instead of an epic myth. Consequently, I’ve always had a soft spot for mythical monsters turned into protagonists, and I’ve wanted to read Grendel for a while… and I finally did. Thank God! I’ve also had the joy of reading Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, and something from that book that has stuck with me is Gardner’s emphasis on the sound of prose lines, which he scans as if they were poetic… and it’s so obvious in this book that he walks the talk, too. Some phrases in this book — like “this one frail, foolish flicker-flash in the long dull fall of eternity” — literally make me pause to savor their sounds. Grendel is your typical monster, complete with unabashed killing of various living things, though he’s also well-educated, introverted, sensitive, and Existential. This may perhaps say a bit more about me than I should, but I really identified with him, perhaps even more than with Geryon — except on the killing people thing, you know. Ultimately, Grendel won’t replace Autobiography as my favorite anything, but I will have to get two cats now, once I officially become the local crazy catladygay man — one to name Geryon and one, of course, to name Grendel.

Why I Finished:

Uh… because it was freaking awesome?!? And way too short. And tragic at the end, since I liked Grendel more than anyone else in the thing… though I always tend to like the villains better in the books. That’s why they’re villains.