Thoughts on Delphi by Clare Pollard

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Delphi and figure out how I feel about the book.

There are many things to unpack here, and I don’t know where to start. But hey, I’ll run it through my Grammarly editor so it won’t be too hard for someone to read. If anyone does.

Are you there, sweetheart? Do you know me? Is this microphone live?

Richard Siken – Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out

Our narrator is a professor who lives with her husband, Jason, and their child Xander, somewhere in the UK. We get to see the inner workings of her mind as the pandemic takes over their lives. 

That’s a terrible summary. I don’t know how to summarise it.

Delphi is my first pandemic novel. I’ve been avoiding those at all costs. This one snuck past my radar because I like collecting Greek mythology-inspired books. I didn’t read the blurb before I started the book. I was just in this mood because I was weirded out by thinking I would be leaving so many of my books behind. So I picked up a pandemic novel, and according to bookly, I read it in an hour and 12 minutes. This is less a review and more like me just talking about the things that occurred to me while I was reading it.

I think I stuck around with Delphi because of the references to Greek mythology and how cleverly the chapters were named. They were all after the different methods one could use to tell the future. I was sure shufflemancy was a joke, but it turns out it’s not, and Googlemancy is. But I also bought tarot cards during the pandemic, downloaded moonly and co-star to understand how the planets impacted me and thought about getting a crystal ball and runes.

Like the narrator, it was all just a game and something to explore until I pulled out my cards to help me figure out if my boyfriend and I were going to make it or not. Yup. That was me. I was trying to make sense of things, wondering if something would happen while living vicariously through incredibly toxic characters in bitlife. Was the world ever going to open up again? Tarot cards were also a way to delve back into something spiritual without seeming to get into religion. I’m still not, but acknowledging that I wanted something more was hard, and it took some time to get there.

Beyond that, I also felt more like Jason than the narrator herself. I feel like I’d be that half-checked-out partner, but I’m also unmarried and don’t have kids, so what’s wrong with me? Do I just think I’ll be a terrible spouse?

I should forget the tarot cards and probably just go to the therapist. 

That’s why I liked this book; it’s got that weird undertone of nothingness, where there isn’t really time unless it’s punctured by political events. You’re just horrified by Trump and Boris Johnson and the rest of the idiots who let this get out of hand. There’s twitter and screen time, the worry that your kids aren’t developing right and the sense that one partner is doing more.

I liked how the guardian put it; it’s less about covid and more about historical moments. That does really tie in with the references that the author used.

If you liked this, you’d also appreciate the art of resilience, which is about the Aeneid, although I have no idea why they changed the title for the US. It’s called The Art of Resilience: The Lessons of Aeneas on amazon UK but called Starting from Scratch: The Life Changing Lessons of Aeneas on Amazon US. The former is a fascinating title which invokes One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. The latter version makes it sound like a self-help book, which it most certainly isn’t and is a horrible category to put that in. It’s bad marketing and I think someone needs to be in trouble for it.

Clare Pollard also did some excellent self-marketing because I picked up her other book, Ovid’s Heroines, which she quotes in this one. I loved the little translation and overall I really liked how Clare Pollard writes so that should count as a review for someone who is still here. I also loved the reference to Christa Wolf’s Cassandra. It’s one of the best trojan war books I’ve read, which doesn’t get enough recognition because of the flow of thought style.

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