Mike Ball, the Michigan humorist who compiled his years of syndicated humor columns into three very funny “What I’ve Learned… So Far” books, has outdone himself with his latest volumes of smiles, chuckles and outright laughter with the publication of his new novel called, “Olympus, Indiana.”
Ball, an Emma Bombeck award-winning author, places the classic, better-known Greek gods and goddesses in the small town of Olympus, Indiana, where they acquire and operate a hotel, complete with a bar and Greek restaurant, while looking or Zeus’ missing amulet of Power. The amulet felt to earth while Zeus was engaged in an ancient battle and landed somewhere in the general vicinity of what would eventually become southern Indiana.
While the amulet is presumably the source of Zeus’ power, a few of the other gods and goddesses mysteriously begin to regain a limited amount of power only to lose it. It doesn’t take long for Ball to assemble the whole host, including Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite (and later an Aphrodite look-a-like named Dyo crafted by Hephaestus), Hera, Artemis, and Ares – with cameo appearances by Hades and Poseidon.
The fun begins when the mayor orders the hotel to build a new sidewalk in front, which Hephaestus does with his magic powers, only to be told the walkways violates city code because the concrete is “too hard.”
A humorous exchange takes place between human resident Sarah and Hermes. “If I recall my mythology class,” says Sarah, “you Gods did spend a fair amount of time ‘reproducing’ with humans.” Hermes replies: “Well, I’ll admit that it did happen, but it was a lot less common than those stories would have you believe. Plus, if you think about it, any time a little ‘Oops’ comes along, it’s pretty convenient to send out a press release claiming that ‘a God did it.”
And then Cronus attacks son Zeus and leaves him sitting “… in a shallow crater, his hair singed and smoking, wearing the shredded remains of his Rolling Stones t-shirt and a smoldering pair of Alvin and the Chipmunks boxer shorts. His thunderbolt, pulsing with energy, lay on the ground next to him, right beside the molten remains of the Lone Star belt buckle.”
And, in another funny exchange — “Where do Giants even hang out so nobody notices them?” asked Sarah. “Walmart?” said Hermes.
I won’t spoil the book for you with any extensive discussion of the plot. Hopefully, I have offered enough examples of Mike Ball’s offbeat humor to tickle your funny bone and encourage you to read “Olympus, Indiana.” I really enjoyed this book, and I’m certain that you will too.