The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

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Five thousand years on - and the Minotaur, or M as he is known to his colleagues, is working as a line chef at Grub's Rib in Carolina, keeping to himself, keeping his horns down, trying in vain to put his past behind him. He leads an ordered lifestyle in a shabby trailer park where he tinkers with cars, writes and re-writes to-do lists and observes the haphazard goings on around him. Outwardly controlled, M tries to hide his emotional turmoil as he is transported deeper into the human world of deceit, confusion and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 120 x 198 x 22mm | 258.55g
  • Canongate Books Ltd
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 184195487X
  • 9781841954875
  • 197,820

Review Text

Its title announces this book's unusual vision, and indeed, the Minotaur of ancient Greece really is the protagonist. But somehow he has escaped from his Cretan labyrinth and, having passed through many unspoken-of times and places, has wound up in the present-day Deep South, living in a trailer park, working as a line chef at Grub's Rib and fixing old cars to pay for his keep. No longer a flesh-eating monster, the Minotaur, known as M, has become all too human over the centuries, yearning to fit in but not knowing how to bridge the gap, signalled by his all-too-visible bull's horns, his inarticulacy and the internal and external evidence of the differences between him and mankind. 'At his core the Minotaur is a voyeur. His humanity ebbs and flows in a cycle all its own and refuses to be called upon, refuses to be predictable....' He's human, but not enough. But as he moves among men, over the course of the novel M gradually begins to hope that perhaps he can have the things that they have, maybe even love.... In some ways reminiscent of Richard Russo for its small-town cast of misfits and hopefuls, the book successfully blends the bizarre and the everyday; the author takes a risk and, unlikely as it sounds, it pays off because of his essentially humane and compassionate vision. This is a quirky, gentle and highly accomplished first novel. M is a convincing character because, for all his differences, he wants what most people want, has the fears and insecurities they have and is intent on simply finding a place for himself in the world. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

A wry, melancholy, beautiful first novel. * Guardian * This is the most surreal slab of realism you will read all year. Unique and rather wonderful. * Arena * Sherrill is a beautiful writer ... he finds the drama to keep you reading, your heart in your mouth, to the conclusion's defiant roar of hope. * Daily Telegraph * Exceptional ...Steven Sherrill uses M as the vehicle for a finely observed and compassionate portrayal of humanity in all its guises. * Irish Independent * Sherrill's narrative, with its dreamlike pace, shows myth coexisting with reality as naturally as it does in ancient epic. * Publisher's Weekly *show more

About Stephen Sherrill

STEVEN SHERRILL is an Assistant Professor of English at Penn State, Altoona, earned an MFA in Poetry from Iowa Writers' Workshop and was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction in 2002. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review and The Georgia Review. He lives in more