Synopses & Reviews
Among the gods, Dionysos is the wildest and darkest, the most given to excess, eroticism, and frenzy. In this wickedly funny novel, Percival Everett revisits the age-old myth, and takes a closer look at this eccentric half-man, half-god.
Frenzy tells the story of Dionysos through his "mortal bookmark," an assistant called Vlepo. It is Vlepo's job to witness and experience on behalf of his curious master. Together they collapse the boundaries of space and time, piecing together a fantastic narrative out of familiar legend. Yet Dionysos in his "god-haze" can never be satisfied. Ironically, this most erotic of gods is prevented by his very divinity from experiencing full sensation while the faithful Vlepo is sent on ever more bizarre quests for satiation.
By exploring the nature of immortality and divinity, Frenzy exposes some of the overlooked truths of our own, all too temporal life.
"[T]he story of the half-man, half-god Dionysus, who inspires a wild devotion but, because of his divinity, is unable to experience it. Thus, he transforms and re-transforms his faithful follower, Vlepo, a sort of executive assistant, into a woman, now a flea, now a river, now a vulture to experience and understand the material world by proxy. Billed as comic, Everett's novel is in fact more often steeped in a pensive sadness that is reflected in the style....An interesting book, but, owing to its quasi-experimental nature and arcane themes, mostly suited to large fiction collections." Library Journal
"Everett weaves a strange, lyric tale of fate and hubris set in ancient Greece. Vlepo tells the story of him and his master, Dionysus, as the two come to the city of Thebes on a mission Vlepo can't quite figure out. Dionysus uses Vlepo to enter the consciousness of numerous people, always witnessing and experiencing for his inquisitive master. And there's much to experience. All of Thebes' women have left the city. A young king attempts to set things aright, while his aged grandfather plots against him. Meanwhile, Vlepo travels into the minds of many others (in a tour de force example of multiple points of view), slowly beginning to realize the limitations placed on his master: the god of the Bacchanalia, of chaos and libido, Dionysus is half-man, half-deity, and doomed to die. Very different from Everett's last offering, God's Country, but no less engrossing." Booklist
"Everett, author of uneven, ambitious fiction in modern settings, tries something very different this time: a reworking of chunks of Greek mythology, centered on the moody figure of the god/man Dionysos (a.k.a. Bakkhos), mixing poetic narration and monologues with ironic, contemporary-sounding dialogue....Everett also peppers the fragmented narrative with episodes from Dionysos' past and from other myths, including the stories of Orpheus (bloodily murdered by the Maenads), and the Minotaur's sister Ariadne (comforted by Dionysos after Theseus seduces and abandons her). Readers intimately familiar with the source material here may be intrigued by Everett's interweaving of legends and intermittently engaged by his lyrical yet playful approach. Others, however, will find this a strained, rather precious exercise with grandiose themes the connection between sensuality and brutality, the nature of mortality, etc. touched upon rather than explored." Kirkus Reviews
"What transpires inside the mind of a god? Specifically, inside the mind of Dionysos, Greek god of wine, pleasure and eroticism? Everett's playful novel attempts to answer that question, weaving together the god's memories as narrated by Vlepo, Dionysos's mortal assistant and constant companion. Abandoning the American West of books such as Watershed and The Big Picture, the prolific novelist brings his sharp eye for the mutability of identity, the clash of myth and culture, and an offbeat humor, to this iconoclastic study in Greek mythology....The choppiness of the narrative, however, prevents any real tension and saps the book's effectiveness. By Frenzy's end, the mind of this turbulent god remains as unknowable as in the beginning." Publishers Weekly
"You won't read a stranger novel this year nor one more charged with lyricism and peculiar poetry. A rapturous meditation on love, power, and the outer limits of the imagination. Everett's oeuvre continues to unfold a hugely original talent." Askold Melnyczuk
About the Author
Percival Everett is the author of ten previous books, among them Watershed, Big Picture, and Zulus. He lives with his wife in Southern California and is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. His most recent novel is Erasure.