TO WATCH THE WAVES GO BY by Peter Stoneley

TO WATCH THE WAVES GO BY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Stoneley, an annual sojourner to the island of Corfu in Greece, reflects on the small stories that make up his days.

An Englishman, the author and his family discovered Corfu in the late ’70s. Here, he sets down, as if in a pocket journal, things that caught his fancy during the 25 years since. Some of the stories are short, such as brief, amateur ethnographic forays into island customs and mind-sets that Stoneley found curious and often had to fathom to make his life more comfortable as an in-comer. Some stories endure longer, or appear sporadically throughout the book, most pertaining to the purchase of a house and property in a small, seaside village. The author’s writing has a quiet quality to it; it’s modest, as if he is fashioning these recollections for himself as much as any reader. The narrative feels natural, without any sense of striving to please. The appeal of his unvarnished conversational tone comes at a price–readers will learn much more than they want to know about the state of Stoneley’s hemorrhoids, the folderol of buying a house abroad and the travails of foreign banking. But he also knows a lovely, transporting image when it bites him: carpets of wild, lilac anemones, blazing yellow oxalis, “tiny, electric blue flowers underfoot, colours in every direction” (gardening being one of Stoneley’s strong suits); the night two boys dropped by with guitar and bouzouki and played a little rooftop music, while, across the street, an outdoor movie was shown against a screen of bamboo. And he has a gratifyingly eccentric sense of humor, ruminating on the eye in his goat’s head soup as he dickers over the price of concrete, or wondering how an egg got inside a narrow-necked earthenware pot without breaking. He is content, after a couple pages, to shrug–“It remained a riddle.”

Sweetly idiosyncratic life musings of a periodic ex-pat on the rustic side of Corfu.

Pub Date: May 16th, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-4196-3484-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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