By Josie E. Davis
Anne Germanacos is fantastically intentional in her retelling of Greek myth in this debut collection connecting women, girls, husbands, daughters, and lovers in a stunning and well timed blend of prose and poetry vignettes. In the Time of the Girls is an ambitious and successful translation of myth and metaphor into a bluntly realistic, feminine, and modern urban experience.
Germanacos is a gifted storyteller whose letters within letters are an admirable and compelling challenge to plot and prose form. From abortion to religious iconography, sexuality and mortality, Germanacos travels beyond the controversial and investigates the heart of what it means to be ‘girl’ while exploring her own life as a woman, wife, and mother living for over thirty years between the Greek Isles and the San Francisco Bay Peninsula.
In “Being Conquered,” Penelope and her husband, Odysseus, contemplate marriage on a trip to Istanbul. “The dervishes came in slowly, bowing, beginning to turn … They wore white skirts, angled their heads to the right, one hand open, the other closed, as if touching both heaven and earth … It looked dreamy and difficult, then simply dreamy. Some of the boys made it look effortless, as if a god inhabited them.” Another of my personal favorites, “Adam and Eva,” in which a man (Adam) paints portraits on the back of a woman (named Eva) and discovers a muse in the life of a baby. “He touches her ears behind the lobe where the surgeon tucked the extra skin. Would like to loosen it by gnawing gently but keeps his even white teeth beneath raindrop lips.” In “Ginka’s Perfume,” we meet a Bulgarian woman and her two silver teeth. “Ginka and I are astonished to discover how much unites us; of course it’s shocking all the things that divide us. Her silver teeth, for instance. And my inability to voice the certainty that they were once gold.”
Germanacos fluently layers her stories with one line inventions of prose such as, “Overlap: His heart encompasses mine.” Or perhaps, “The Desert: So much of what one sees in the desert looks dead but isn’t.” Binding together characters until their world becomes ours, her skill is so well crafted I cannot imagine this book in any other form. I cherish the opportunity to revisit ‘the girls’ again in the future. In the Time of the Girls is an invitation you cannot refuse.
Together with her husband, Nick Germanacos, she ran the Ithaka Cultural Studies Program on the islands of Kalymnos and Crete, and taught writing, literature, and Modern Greek.
She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in over sixty literary reviews and anthologies, including Dzanc’s Best of the Web 2009. She and her husband have four children and five grandchildren. They live on Crete and in San Francisco.
In the Time of the Girls by Anne Germanacos
Author: Anne Germanacos
Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010