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Journey We Have All Been On

November 11, 2018

William R. Burkett’s new book “Venus Mons Iliad,” the first in a three part series, begins the story of one man’s decades long quest to understand the etiquette and protocol surrounding the essence of man relating to woman. The critical point at issue for the main character (“Ish”) is figuring out how to deal with what is known as “sex,” which Ish had heard about in bits and pieces over his pre-teen and throughout his teen age years, but which had never been completely -- or competently -- explained to him. Without spoiling the story for those wishing to compare the Iliad to their own “coming of age histories,” it was my impression that growing up in the Southern family described must have been extremely confusing under the considerable weight of the quirky teachings of a grandmother, referred to in the book as “the matriarch” (who was herself a former Prohibition Era “Gun Moll”). Her constant advice was “don’t trust any girl you come across . . . all they want is to get control of your life -- and everything you own -- through trickery.” Ish’s journey was not made any easier by these continually repeated mantras, coupled with all of the “assertive female guidance” that Ish received at critical times from the matriarch and other female members of the extended family (such as “You MUST get married . . .NOW!”). Another recurring obstacle Ish faces as the Iliad proceeds is the “commoditization” of sex by many of the females peripherally involved in the story. One example of this was a successful all female group effort to measure the actual length (12”) of the relevant part of the anatomy of one of the male “bit players” in this story. Parts of Ish’s overall childhood experience, viewed from today’s perspective, seem to border on child abuse. Ish’s ultimate destination on the quixotic Iliad will be a surprise to anyone who follows the bread crumbs to the very end.