I read 95 percent of Marie Phillip’s Gods Behaving Badly in a day — not just because it was a quick read, but also because I’m sick (ever see that commercial where the person’s whole head turns into one big stuffy nose? That’s me).
And what a nice companion it made. It’s a silly book, really. Phillips puts the Greek gods and goddesses into today’s era and into a run down London house, where they fled after losing their hold on the beliefs of the Greeks. Apollo does a show on a psychic channel; Eros goes to church; Dionysus runs a club; and Aphrodite works as a phone sex girl. Their powers have been sliced down to almost nothing, either because they’re getting old, people don’t believe in them anymore, or a combination of the two — it takes a while for the gods to figure that out, and how to fix their predicament.
It’s a fun, quick read and completely ridiculous (much like Ian Sansom’s Mr. Dixon Disappears, which I named my second favorite novel of 2007). What else would you expect from a novel that brings the gods and goddesses to modern London? It’s drawn a lot of review attention, too. I pitched it around as well — I loved reading about the Greek gods and goddesses in high school and even dressed up as Athena for a report — but couldn’t find any takers, mostly because my editors already had it covered. The book’s even been optioned by Ben Stiller for a possible comedy series. I don’t know how that would work, though — the gods and goddesses weren’t very PG, and neither is the book. A light edit could take out all the sex, though, I suppose. But what would the gods and goddesses be without all the mating with gods, mortals and demi-gods in and out of the family?
Interesting “success story” note: Phillips wrote Gods Behaving Badly while working for a bookstore. As a former bookstore cashier, I can tell you that you have more than enough time on your hands to daydream, and even think up the basis of a novel. I’m glad at least someone got hers published.