Monthly Archives: September 2009

Paul Theroux, Collected Stories

These stories are typically a few pages long, and as befits a travel writer are set worldwide.

A problem with reading the stories in this form rather than in a magazine (where most originally appeared) is the need to check when they were originally published; in general they are set in ‘the present’, but just when is that? The dating is particularly critical in the case of the stories set in Russia, and one which seems prescient about the inter-tribal tensions in Rwanda.

The last two parts of the collection concern an American diplomat working in Malaysia and London. The Malaysian stories include examples of a ghost story and a detective story, the London ones are more focused on the world of the American Embassy. Although the stories are mostly independent, the last one contains a resolution which I found surprisingly conventional, especially after the ambiguous endings of many of the earlier stories in the collection.

  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (July 1, 1998)
  • ISBN-10: 0140274944
  • ISBN-13: 978-014027494
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Dana Facaros and Linda Theodorou, Peloponnese & Athens, 2nd. edition (Cadogan Guides)

We took this on holiday with us to the SW Peloponnese and found it a useful guide to the region.

Ancient sites are covered in detail, and as a classicist by training myself I was on the lookout for inaccuracies.  However, the accounts of ancient mythology and history appeared to be not only accurate but to reflect recent scholarship (as for example in the coverage of Bronze Age society). I suspect there may have been a professional classical consultant, but one isn’t credited.

Remember that details of opening times may change.  Nestor’s Palace no longer opens in the afternoons and some exhibits such as the Antikythera Mechanism in the National Archæological Museum in Athens have been re-arranged. The guide includes the new Acropolis Museum; the authors have firm views on the removal of antiquities from their original locations.

We especially appreciated information on some lesser-known sites such as Messene. The authors are explicit about a matter on which other guidebooks can be coy and which postcards ignore completely: the fact that the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae has been shrouded in a tent for nearly thirty years.

We didn’t make so much use of the more general information on beaches, restaurants etc. but it didn’t seem wide of the mark when we did. The black-and-white pages of our copy were robust, but some of the colour pages near the front quickly started to become detached.

  • Publisher: Cadogan Guides; 2nd edition (June 17, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1860113966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860113963
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