(Once in a while, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

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Who's your date today? The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason.

Where'd you go? Soups Du Jour, in the lobby of the enormous building at 1001 4th Ave.

What'd you eat? A small Caesar salad and a cup of potato soup, with bread and a soda ($9.28).

How was the food? After I left the library, I decided I was going to go to the first lunch place I came across. This was it. It's one of those completely impersonal downtown lunch places that gives you everything in a bunch of plastic containers. I ate the food—generic, but at least the bland potato soup was hot, which is more than you can get at some of these places downtown—in the depressing lobby of an office building while some white guy murdered the electric blues on the speakers overhead. I wanted to die.

What does your date say about itself? "Zachary Mason's brilliant and beguiling debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, reimagines Homer's classic story of the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. With hypnotic prose, terrific imagination, and dazzling literary skill, Mason creates alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions of Homer's original that, taken together, open up this classic Greek myth to endless reverberating interpretations".

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Is there a representative quote? "The clerk of Suicides etc. bowed and with due formality passed the document to the General who Holds Death in His Right Hand, who annotated it, stamped it, and passed it to the Viceroy of Domestic Matters Involving Mortality and so on throughout he many twists and turns of the bureaucracy, through the hands of spymasters, career criminals, blind assassins, mendacious clerics and finally to the lower ranks of advisors who had been promoted to responsibility for their dedication and competence (rare qualities given their low wages and the contempt with which they were treated by their well-connected or nobly born superiors), one of whom noted it was a death order of high priority and without reading it assigned it to that master of battle and frequent servant of the throne, Odysseus."

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. It's a smart, experimental read (Harry Mathews' blurb on the back led me to take a look at this, and if you've read Mathews before, you should know that he wouldn't blurb a stupid book.) The only problem is that I think I'll have to start over from the beginning; reading it while eating that awful food in that generic lobby was an awful experiment.