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Tuesday
Mar072017

Polk, Harper and Who, by Panayotis Cacoyannis reviewed by Casey Dorman

To read a novel by Panayotis Cacoyannis is to delve deeply into the psyches of always complex, and often unusual characters. Although his latest book, Polk, Harper and Who has it’s requisite number of kooky people, the two main  characters, Adam and Eva, are not strange at all. That is not to say that they are simply drawn. Both are complex, Eva is, by far, the more complicated of the two. She has secrets, from her best friend, from her husband, and from herself. But they are not secrets meant to harm anyone, only to protect. Her greatest secret is why she continues to play the role of daughter to her stepmother, concealing that her real mother died to everyone, including the husband with whom she shares almost all else. We never learn the why of that particular secret, except that to divulge it, at least while her stepmother is alive, would threaten the delicate balance she has achieved in living under the parenting of a woman she hates. I must keep the other secrets hidden in this review, as they might spoil the story for future readers. Adam, her husband, although complex in terms of his art and his views, is more straightforward with those he loves, almost to the point of perfection. The reciprocal love of these two persons is the central theme of the novel.

As with other Cacoyannis novels, the language, the cleverness, the juxtaposition of heartbreak and humor and the presence of truly hilariously drawn characters is at least half the pleasure of reading the book. The author has a way of describing mundane scenes in  ascending lines of subtle  humor that, for me, often results in an outbreak of irrepressible laughter by the end of the scene. The attention to detail and the complexity of  his desriptions of both character and setting are captivating.

I live a busy life with a crowded schedule, much of it consumed by reading and writing. It took me awhile to finish this book, but I must say that it was the pleasure to which I turned at the end of each day. It is well worth reading.

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