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Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece (Vintage Departures) Kindle Edition

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Length: 415 pages

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For many, Greece is a land lost in time. It conjures up images of the looming Parthenon with its pillars of marble and the timeless whitewashed buildings of its parched islands glinting against a backdrop of the crystal blue Mediterranean. But ask about contemporary Greece and most people draw a blank. In Dinner with Persephone, poet Patricia Storace does a compelling job of filling in this empty canvas. She conjures a country where history and modernity coexist in often surprising ways, and with the past as an ineluctable backdrop, Storace paints in the everyday details that bring the country and its people vividly to life.

From Publishers Weekly

A scoop of ice cream decorated with pomegranate seeds is the Persephone of the title?a Greek confection the author orders at a patisserie in Athens where she and a companion stop after a climb to the theater of Dionysus. Her companion chooses a "Leda"?two scoops of vanilla covered with rosettes and studded with tiny paper Greek flags. These are apt symbols of the great past that dominates the everyday life and consciousness of modern Greeks. Like them, Storace smoothly entwines her own daily encounters, during the year she lived in Athens, with the country's history and legends, current politics and neighborhood activities. A prize-winning poet, she has the advantage of a facility with the language, and has access to Greek friends and cultural guides who are often as probing and intellectual as she is. Her journal of that year provides minutely detailed observations, conversations, shopping tours, parties, religious and national holidays, passengers on a bus, street noises, visits to historic spots and even the plots of Greek movies. Though sometimes exasperating in its indiscriminate detail, at the same time the book immerses the reader more deeply than do many other accounts of an American abroad in a vibrant sense of the country's past and present.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1358 KB
  • Print Length: 415 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679744789
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 19, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 19, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005PRJPEA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,962 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By B-Track on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Dinner with Persephone" chronicles Patricia Storace's experiences and observations during a year she spent living and traveling in Greece. I picked up this book this summer, and brought it with me for a 6-week stay in the Corinthia. In the end, it's a book I have extremely mixed feelings about.
At first I was delighted with the book. Yet as it wore on, I began to grow irritated with Storace's long diatribes. I continually got the sense that she feels she can describe Greeks, Greek culture, and Greek religion definitively in one book -- after living only a year in Athens! Many of her declarations about Greeks and Greek customs don't appear to be grounded in any real research, just her own musings and observations. Towards the end of the book and the end of her stay, she makes a day-trip to Turkey on a ferry, and then a week-long Istanbul trip soon after. Apparently, she feels this brief stay gives her full license to make some incredibly strong statements about the current social state of Turkish women. I couldn't believe her audacity -- this enraging section of the book doesn't seem based on any real encounters with Turkish women. Finally, her long and detailed accounts of how she parries the advances of various Greek and Turkish men grew tiring. Relating these encounters seems to serve little purpose except a lot of ego-stroking.
However, "Dinner with Persephone" still has a lot to recommend itself, mostly in its more poetic, light-hearted parts. Storace has some wonderful pieces of writing in here -- I loved her descriptions of place, and her account of swimming in the Saronic Gulf at the end of summer. I also enjoyed the story "The Godfather," as told to her by one of the many friends she makes along the way.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Theodore Bililies on July 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an incredibly provocative book, and even more so if the reader is of Greek descent or has spent considerable time in Greece. It is a valuable "must read", as it does a superb job in showing the quintessential slices of Greek life, the complexity of Greek history and identity, and the pathos and chronic idealization by the Greeks of their state, their land, their religion, their history, and themselves. Finally, her treatment of the psychology of the development of the individual within the larger family system and of relations within that system is brilliant.

My disappointments with this book are two. First, as another reviewer put it so well, "Unfortunately, she condescends towards the Greeks, and sees them as dysfunctional -- largely because they aren't American." It seems to me to be the first rule of travel writing, for an author, to get as involved in the people as one can; we always get a sense with this author, however, that she is a sort of pedagogue, or Anglophile foreign correspondent, who transmits "facts" in such a way that she is completely ignorant (or not) of their highly judgmental quality (something akin to the impression left by the phrase, "those charming peasants...".

Second, her writing style is prepossessing, overly involved, and filled with so many self-conscious clauses yearning to be lines of poetry that the reader can get the sense that she is simply trying to show off. I often found myself just wishing she'd say something simply, or without her tedious and endless analogies and metaphors.

In closing, there are some --if not racist -- then very distasteful references to Greeks en mass, something akin to "they all look alike". How ignorant and disappointing. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable, valuable, and provocative book, and one worth reading.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
A woman from Alabama spends a year in Greece and shares her impressions. The classical statues are too beautiful and don't emphasize genitals enough. The icons of the Orthodox saints don't smile enough. The people don't smile enough. The wine is "bitter" or "stoney". The local banks won't let her have an account in her currency (dollars). Would a bank in Mobile allow an account in drachmas? This book is not an exercise in cultural relativity. The narrator often boasts of her knowledge of Greek, but her translations fall short of the mark. She confuses the word "power outage" with the word "vacation" and she hears the Greeks saying the the "power is taking a vacation". Cute, but not true. On a more serious note she distorts the key concept of "filotimo" (lit. "love of honor"), a quality that Greeks associate with a desire for dignity and self-sufficiency, into "hunger for prestige" and intolerance of criticism. She translates the triumphal exclamation of an Olympic gold medal winner (which in English would sound like "for Greece dammit!") into an unprintable obscenity that misses the point altogether. A chapter ends with this obscenity as if the narrator wants this negative image to linger. Several chapters end on such notes. When she doesn't mistranslate the Greek language she objects to the way the locals use it. She is antagonized by the use of "Mr and Mrs" before a person's name (a practise widespread through the Mediterranean: Monsieur et Madame, Signor et Signora, etc.). A hairdresser who goes by Mr. Emanuel, rather than dropping the Mr. in accordance to the US cultural norm, is made to appear pompous.Read more ›
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