The Parthenon Bomber

Christos Chrissopoulos, trans. from the Greek by John Cullen. Other Press, $17.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59051-836-6
The first of his works to be translated into English, Chrissopoulos’s slight novella slyly imagines a monumental catastrophe. Inspired by a World War II–era manifesto by Yorgos V. Makris, secretary-general of the Society of Aesthetic Saboteurs of Antiquities, a young Athenian plots to blow up the famed Parthenon and free the stagnating city “from what was regarded as unsurpassable perfection.” The novella opens with a fascinating descent into the perpetrator’s mind, a “probable monologue” (the “authentic” confession having disappeared) that is at once a psychogeographical analysis of Athens and philosophical justification for the bombing: “In our city, it’s difficult to believe that any single thing really belongs to you.... Except, perhaps, an utter delusion: an act committed with full consciousness.” A series of witness statements paint a blurry portrait of the bomber as both grandiose romantic in thrall to an “adolescent messianism” and shy loner “scared by his own imagination.” (The biographical sketch of his radical forebear, Makris, is similarly sketchy.) Chrissopoulos briefly describes the stunned city’s reaction to the gaping absence, but the novella soon splinters into more fragments: evidentiary material, the musings of an Athenian seeing the destruction from his window (“Reality seemed delicate and fragile, diaphanous, like Japanese rice paper”) and another monologue from a troubled soldier. The novella’s multiple voices are too often indistinguishable from one another, but the overall effect is nonetheless haunting. The compiled dossier aims to impose order on the spectacular display of symbolic violence and its chaotic aftermath, an order which the dossier’s elliptical, dreamlike contents consistently explode. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 06/20/2017
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