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Orrie\'s Story

Orrie's Story

A novel by

Publisher's Weekly
Weak vision appears to be Berger's hamartia in this muddled modernized take on the Oresteia. A pun-happy narrative casts Agamemnon as small-town loser Augie Mencken, returning home after WW II decorated and distinguished. His harpy wife (Clytemn-) Esther and her lover E.G. (Aegisthus) have other than a hero's welcome planned: murder is in store. Esther despises Augie for his spinelessness and blames him for their daughter's having run away, but E.G., also Augie's cousin, has a generations-old score to settle--an improperly large share of an inheritance allowed Augie's father, not E.G.'s, to establish a local five-and-dime. Such penny-ante feuding characterizes the novel; after a blackly humorous beginning that both reveals to the reader that Augie's wartime exploits are entirely fictitious and contains an obligatory botched-murder scene, Berger's tone wavers drastically and his comedy dissolves. He plugs Augie's children into their roles as Orestes, Electra and Iphigenia; throws in the Furies and Apollo as courtroom lawyers; and makes a reference or two to Oedipus; but the classical Greek roots here are otherwise barren.

Library Journal
The bones of the story are familiar: a war hero returns after years away to find himself unwelcome. In his absence his wife has taken a lover, and together wife and lover conspire in his murder. The son, urged on by the murdered hero's furious daughter, kills his father's killers. It is the Oresteia, but updated and translated into life in small-town America at the close of World War II. Agamemnon becomes Augie Mencken, a failure whose heroism is itself an elaborate hoax; Clytemnestra becomes Esther, who takes as her lover Augie's more successful cousin E.G.; Electra become Ellie; and Orestes, the title's Orrie. The novel is amusing, but little else, and unfortunately it provides no new turns on either its mythic bones or its updated setting. For collections of popular literature.-- Kevin Ray, Washington Univ. Lib., St. Louis

Used availability for Thomas Berger's Orrie's Story

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Hardback Editions

June 1992 : USA Hardback
Title: Orrie's Story
Author(s): Thomas Berger
ISBN: 0-517-08582-8 / 978-0-517-08582-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Random House Value Publishing
Availability: Amazon   

October 1990 : USA Hardback
thumbTitle: Orrie's Story: A Novel
Author(s): Thomas Berger
ISBN: 0-316-09220-7 / 978-0-316-09220-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T)
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

March 1992 : UK Paperback
thumbTitle: Berger Thomas : Orrie'S Story
Author(s): Thomas Berger
ISBN: 0-14-014994-5 / 978-0-14-014994-4 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

June 2016 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
thumbTitle: Orrie's Story
Author(s): Thomas Berger
Publisher: Diversion Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   

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