News from the Village: Aegean Friends
In his twenties, an American manual laborer and poet found himself living with his beautiful wife in a village in southern Greece. Their first encounter with that country would prove an unrecoverable dream of intimate magic, but through decades of steadfast affection, poet David Mason grew to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a citizen of one's own country and a citizen of the world. News from the Village is a lyrical memoir of Aegean friends, including such figures as Orhan Pamuk, Bruce Chatwin, Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, Yiorgos Chouliaras, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, each of whom comes fully alive, along with a brilliant cast of lesser-known characters. Fearing he has lost Greece and everything it has meant in his life, Mason goes back again and again to the country he knew as a young man. He encounters Turkey and Greece together in the shadow of 9-11, follows the lives of his friends, whose trials sometimes surpass his own, and brings them all together in the circle of this generous narrative. Ultimately, Mason's memoir is about what we can hold and what slips away, what sustains us all through our griefs and disappointments. This book is richly evocative and rare.
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About the Author
Falling in love and riding out the consequences is one of the essential experiences of growing up. This is the story of a youthful romance with Greece that matures into a deeper love and understanding of a complex and conflicted country and its neighbors. It begins in an Eden-like year of sun, sea, wine, love and gardening in a sleepy village, the slow and childlike naming of things in a strange tongue. Mason combines the strengths of a poet and a novelist, describing the wild beauties of the landscape and village life circumscribed by tradition. The locals call Mason and his young bride "ta paidia," the children, and we slowly discover the snake in the heart of this paradise is not temptation, but willful innocence. Returning to Greece sixteen years after this idyll, Mason realizes he must confront shifting politics, village tensions, family tragedy, and history with blood on its hands before he can love Greece as she is rather than as he would have her be. Along the way, he introduces us to a rich cast of writers and ex-pats, shepherds and urbanites and travels that stretch from the Rockies to the Bosphorus the journey of a lifetime.
Vivid and evocative, this candid memoir braids poetry and youthful earnestness with riper reflections. It brought back strong memories of my own youthful sojourn in Greece.