On writing The Library Agrafa

Occasionally I write not-so-shallow articles. This week my essay The Library Agrafa was published in The Aleph Review a Pakistani journal for creative expression. Here is an excerpt:

This story was anathema to me. It lacked the necessary romance and love that I would read about in the novels that I would buy from the newsagency on my way home from the one-room children’s library, arms laden with books borrowed and books bought. Romance to me was a meeting of two people who share a feeling of intimacy, desire, a visceral connection. Marrying for a business transaction, the joining of two large herds, lacked spark, lacked the necessary frisson of a dramatic coming together.

You can read the whole essay at this link: https://www.thealephreview.com/post/the-library-agrafa

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Language, Photoessays και να γεμίζει το μάτι: Observation 64, Reading note 27 and my first Greek Note.

Observation Note 64: Language. I made a decision at the tail end of my thesis studies that when I had finished I would re-engage in reading in Greek again. I attained my First Lyceum certificate (first year of senior high for those in the US, Year 10 for those in Oz) and then I stupidly stopped studying Greek. Though I am fluent in Greek, my reading flow has diminished over many decades. So in my aim to become proficient again, I read a travel photoessay. The text is a reworking of the Instagram post I wrote upon finishing reading the book a while back. I am well aware that my written expression is rudimentary and on par with a primary school student but I don’t care. I am rebuilding a skill lost here!

Reading Note 27: Photoessay. Nikos Desyllas’s Epirus: an aesthetic wander through a Greek region is a beautiful bilingual photoessay travelling through the state of Epirus in the far North West of Greece where the Pindus Mountains meet the Ionian Sea. The photographs of places such as Ioannina, Zagoria, Metsovo (which I have visited 3 times) and all the in-between mountains and gorges, lakes and rivers to the sea are presented alongside quotes and stanzas from Ancient Greek tales of Odysseus to folkloric songs similar to those my mother (who is not from Epirus but from nearby on the Eastern side of the Pindus) would sing. I deeply enjoyed reading this book and I really hope I can find more of Desyllas’s books.

Greek Note 1: Γεμίζει το μάτι. Τού Νίκο Δεσύλλας το βιβλίο Ήπειρος: αισθητικη περιπλανηση στο χωρο μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ. Είναι μία φωτογραφική έκθεση για το νομό της Ήπειρος. Ειναι δίγλωσσων στα Ελληνικά και στα Αγγλικά με στοίχοι απο αρχαάα μυθιστορήματα του Οδυσσέα και διαλεγμένα δημοτικά τραγούδια που μου θυμίζουν τα τραγούδια της μαμάς μου (που δεν είναι απο την Ήπειρος όμως κατάγεται από κοντά στην Ανατολική πλευρά του Πίνδος με την Ήπειρος στην Δυση. Ελπίζω να βρω κι’άλλα βιβλία του Νίκος Δεσύλλας.

That was then; This is now – travelling for 30(ish) years

James Gleik/The Information

On my latest trip overseas, I noted the way travel has changed. Earlier this year I read James Gleik’s The Information. Gleik explores the birth of the information age and the impact of technology (from the alphabet, dictionaries, user generated content and information theory) on the way we live. In his first chapter Gleick tells of African talking drums and how they were used to relay messages from one village to another. This got me thinking about the way the information age has impacted my travel decisions and experiences. I think it has been easy to draw comparisons between these years because I am not a regular traveller. In 30 years, I have only been overseas 7 times so changes are much more evident. They are not gradual. So here are some of my observations: Continue reading

My travel reading and a sense of setting

I’m rubbish at reading while on holiday. Where other people relax at the beach with a book, I reject all reading materials as I am either in the water swimming or racing around looking at every museum, shop, historical building that is close by. To add to this, my latest trip was a combination of work and play (I marked student assignments, along with PhD related conference paper writing and archive visiting), which even further lessened my reading time.

However, I did manage to read 5 novels while I was away (I won’t count the numerous picture books I read to my cousin’s kids). So for this blog only I will write about the place I read each book in as well as the book.

Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki

Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki

Before I discuss these other books I need to point out that I am both impressed and horrified that I have reverted in my reading habits. 4 years ago, I bought myself a SONY ereader and during an 8 week holiday I did not enter a single book shop and I did not buy a single book. All my reads were downloaded from my local library and Project Gutenberg. My luggage was liberated. Hallelujiah to more space for more shoes. But my latest trip has shocked me. Not only did I not use my tablet for reading but I found myself carting print books across the globe. Thoughthey are much more cumbersome, I love them soooo much more than ebooks. I can write in the margins (I don’t but I could if I chose to), I can dog ear pages (I do), I can litter my book with post it notes, bookmarks made of receipts, ticket stubs, serviettes and beer coasters. Each item becoming in itself a souvenir of the moment that I was reading. I am enjoying my reversion. I want a badge that says “Tried ebooks, didn’t work, print is my swag”. I also want to point out that I always forget to take photos when I am on holiday. I guess I am too busy being on holiday to document it. Continue reading

Nymph kissing Mortal Boy

A few weeks before I left Australia for Greece, I came across Tonya Alexandra’s Nymph, Book One of The Love Oracles. Being one to judge a book by its cover, I fell in love and then I fell deep deep deeply in love with the blurb:


nymphAn Idyllic Greek Island

Obsessed demigods

A fallen nymph

A Mortal Boy

Merope, a beautiful but faded star nymph, is banished to Earth for displeasing the gods. She tries to fit in, go to school and live a normal “human” life. And then she meets Lukas. But relationships between goddesses and men are forbidden.

Will their love grow? Or will Merope and Lukas feel the wrath of the gods?


I swooned before I opened the first page. However, I was patient and did not start reading Nymph until I was on a ferry leaving Piraeus heading for Poros, a small island in the Argosaronic gulf near the Peloponnese. The ferry ride to Poros is magical. I sit on the upper deck, the wind is gentle, the sea is calm and the ferry passes by container ships and yachts as it starts its journey first to Aegina, then the volcanic peninsula of Methana before arriving in Poros, an island separated from the mainland only by a 200 metre wide strait. Along the whole way, the sea meets the mountains, the diffuse light filters through the clouds as I am quickly immersed in the story of Merope and Lukas. Continue reading