Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
Blackwyrm Publishing
Copyright 2012 by Blackwyrm Publishing
ISBN: 9781613181256
184 pages
   Michael Williams said of himself recently that he had always wanted to write a Greek tragedy but he's not Greek, was born about 2500 years to late, and doesn't even read modern Greek much less ancient.  Nevertheless, he set forth recently to do something of the sort anyhow.  The result of those efforts is the novel Vine: An Urban Legend, which weds Greek tragedy to urban legend.  It is a departure in style and content from Mr. Williams previous work, such as the novel Weasels Luck TSR 1988, and Trajan's Arch Blackwyrm 2012. 

    Vine is the story of a down and out play director who wants to get some of his own at last by shocking the community.  He decides to stage The Bacchae by Euripides for the series of free summer plays at the outside amphitheater in the park.  He awakes some ancient forces associated with the play, and they take a hand to make a real tragedy.

    Mr. Williams' style is loose and irreverent, yet the story is tight, honest, and respectful.  Characters painted as villains from one perspective are sympathetic from another, much like real people the reader might note.  There's a bit of the sympathetic fellow and a bit of the villain in all of us, you might conclude.  Vine exposes the silly conceits, the lack of insight and foresight in people average and people highly successful.  It also shows their strengths and hopes.  It's funny, tragic, beautiful, and dirty all at once.  It won't leave readers happy, this reader thinks, but neither will it necessarily leave readers unsatisfied.  It is definitely a tragedy, though and not for the faint of heart.  Expect some enlightenment, but don't look for a clearly uplifting ending.  It is definitely an urban legend and won't make everything stark and clear at the end, so don't look to have it all explained.

    There's a fairly unique format in this novel, in that it is told partly in the style of Greek tragedy with a chorus leader and chorus and speaking characters.  This adds to the dark charm.  It's very readable with an easy, flowing, seemingly discursive style,yet in fact, everything read is pertinent to the story.  Such a story, with the characters that populate it, of course has some course language and topics inappropriate for younger and/or sensitive readers.  There are few errors in proof reading and editing, and none that broke this reader totally out of the story.

   All in all, a good read, entertaining, and not unenlightening.  I do recommend it.