A second collection from Papanikolas (Small Bird, Tell Me, not reviewed) that movingly details the struggles of Greek...



A second collection from Papanikolas (Small Bird, Tell Me, not reviewed) that movingly details the struggles of Greek immigrants in America and their descendants, torn between the consolations and the constrictions of the old ways. These are quiet, domestic stories of a people shaped by a past and by religious rituals so ingrained that even the young can never entirely ignore them. Papanikolas's Greeks live in small towns, where they form close-knit communities. The lives of parents and grandparents revolve around family, church, and social clubs, but the younger generation seems eager to embrace a new identity as Americans. The title piece (the collection's best) is an affecting account of one woman's struggle both to shape and retain her identity. Athena, the youngest child of Greek immigrants, has (unlike her older sisters) gone to college and married outside the community; she suffers a severe breakdown when her eldest son, Paul, a zealous Mormon, pressures her to renounce the old faith and become a full-fledged Mormon. In other notable stories, Kallie, a young woman working in a hospital during the Depression, is stunned by the prejudice she encounters and fears that she'll have no choice but to marry within the suffocating confines of the local Greek community (""Country Hospital, 1939""); the acutely observed jealousies that are provoked by success cause two sisters and their husbands, once best friends, to grow apart (""Neither Nose Nor Ass""); and the differences between the old ways of doing things, and the often shocking new, are noted as women prepare for a church celebration (""Getting Ready for the Festival""). ""If I Don't Praise My House"" deals with a widow's encounter with old grievances; in ""The People Garden,"" an old woman finds that her garden stirs vivid memories of vanished family members. Evocative portraits of a people on the cusp, and of a culture caught in its dying but still resonant last moments.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0804009945

Page Count: 261

Publisher: Swallow/Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996