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by Ersi Sotiropoulos & translated by Peter Green

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-56656-661-4
Publisher: Interlink

Four young lives intersect in contemporary Greece.

Athenian slacker Sid spends days on the couch, heckled by pet mynah bird Maria, and nights in the taverna, where he meets the vaguely Goth girl Julia, his idea of a black-magic woman. They have a desultory affair. Sid’s sister Lia is in an Athens hospital, expected to die of a rare ailment, the exact nature of which her doctor can’t—or won’t—disclose. Her nurse-nemesis, Sotiris, hails from a coastal village and makes frequent visits home, where he stalks a young girl. His quarry is Nina, age 13, sent by her parents to live with her aunt and help out in the aunt’s café. From afar, Nina worships a boy summering in the village with his bourgeois family. A budding writer, she is acutely attuned to her surroundings and condemns other people as “zombies.” She senses she is being followed, and at one point, Sotiris exposes himself to her. Lia asks Sid to get even with Sotiris. Sid, posing as Sotiris’s old school friend Thanási, saddles him with Maria the mynah. Lia sneaks a look at her medical file, and is caught by Sotiris, who slugs her. From then on, he lives in fear she’s going to report him. She’s learned her diagnosis, “Hcnvmb,” a condition, her doctor explains, in which the body’s immune system rallies to fight a non-existent virus. Summoned to the village by Sotiris, Sid/Thanási witnesses the departure of Nina’s crush, Stephanos. Sotiris then enlists him in a failed attempt to “get rid” of Nina. Back in Athens, Sotiris meets Julia, a student physician’s assistant. They get engaged. She notes the strange coincidence of two boyfriends with the same mynah. Shortly after a last visit to Lia, Sid recalls, with odd detachment, the fact that she died alone after he ignored her request to stay the night.

Some memorable detail and wry observations, but capricious character behavior and too many anticlimaxes will frustrate readers.