A travel memoir about a woman who lives in Athens for a year? How could I pass that up?
Fortunately, if I ever write a memoir about MY year in Athens, it will be distinctly different in feel and tone. Storace is almost to poetic in her language for my taste – instead of describing where she’s going or who she’s hanging out with, she jumps over the details in order to describe general trends and observations. Which are totally interesting, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t actually feel like a travel memoir. Instead, it’s something more like an emotional evaluation of Greece – past, present, and future.
At first, I was a little miffed with how harsh Storace was toward my emotionally adopted home. But I came to see shades of culture shock and adaptation in her writing, and honestly, I guess it’s pretty great to see someone unflinchingly evaluate a country with such a rich history and such a middling present. Her knowledge of Greek writings and history inspired me to study more of it myself – especially Greece’s tumultuous relationship with Turkey.
All in all, this is a great book for someone who wants to think lofty thoughts about Greece. It’s not so great for someone who wants to plan their own adventures there. Since I’m interested in both, I liked it pretty well, though I’m still on the lookout for a more traditional travel memoir set in Athens!
“I lived in Athens, at the intersection of a prostitute and a saint.” So begins Patricia Storace’s astonishing memoir of her year in Greece. Mixing affection with detachment, rapture with clarity, this American poet perfectly evokes a country delicately balanced between East and West.
Whether she is interpreting Hellenic dream books, pop songs, and soap operas, describing breathtakingly beautiful beaches and archaic villages, or braving the crush at a saint’s tomb, Storace, winner of the Whiting Award, rewards the reader with informed and sensual insights into Greece’s soul. She sees how the country’s pride in its past coexists with profound doubts about its place in the modern world. She discovers a world in which past and present engage in a passionate dialogue. Stylish, funny, and erudite, Dinner with Persephone is travel writing elevated to a fine art.
Release Date: September 1997