submitted by Dean Coroneos on 18.06.2005
Author: Kerry Walsh
When Published: 1975
Publisher: William Torrens Publishers Pty Ltd
Available: Out of Print
Description: A Novel set on Kythera and in Sydney
ISBN 0 909088 00 4
Kerry Walsh. Biography. 1976
Kerry Walsh’s novel is set against the exciting backgrounds of today’s Sydney and ageless Greece. It is an explosive exploration of the mechanics of human corruption. Absorbing and vastly entertaining.
Kerry Walsh was born in the inland Australian city of Mildura in 1944. Now a well-known Australian journalist, she has also worked as a teacher, waitress, typist, pub folk singer and unsuccessful process server. Her education took place at ‘too many schools.’
She has close friends within the Australian Greek community and with her journalist husband has lived and travelled extensively in Greece. She still regards a small village on the remote Ionian island of Kythera as her second home.
Kerry Walsh lives and writes in an outer suburb of Melbourne where she also cares for her two, small sons and two, older step-sons.
Book outline. From the dust-cover.
What was the timeless secret of Cirigo? Who was Zakiris, and did his madness conceal a frightening perception for the present, projected like a ghost echo from the glory of Greece’s Golden Age? Sean Flannagan—was he tool or fool— destined to lose himself and all around him? Marcia. She gambled love for the fame she longed for and lost. Helen, who found victory only in defeat. Paul Fourides, torn in the torment of two cultures and destined to live a lie to hold his beautiful Eiro whom he could mould but never control. And finally, Stendahl, the disciple of his own destruction. Towering above all of them was the catalyst of their conflicts. Cirigo.
Excerpt from the book
"On Cirigo, as soon as it was light, Sean Flannagan and Dimitrios Zakiris set off for Peleoppolae. In early spring, the sun was lazy, pausing beneath heavy blankets of cloud before facing the crisp morning air.
It was a long walk from Risavounyi through Aerothalusa and along the beach. They passed under a low cliff, its face sanded yellow and whipped by so many varied winds that it was like a frosted cake patterned with the tip of a haphazard knife.
They crossed the outcrop of rock shadowing the place where Aphrodite had risen from the sea and walked further along the beach until the strange, oblique cliffs were almost on top of them. They stopped only at the place where the gorge came down to the sea. The sides had graduated down for many metres and here, sheltered on both sides a clean arc of beach. At the water’s calm edge there were innumerable pebbles. Further up on the beach, fine, white sand welcomed their weary bodies.
“Are you hungry after our long walk?” Zakiris asked.
“Yes,” Flannagan replied, his eyes fixed on the still, clear sea which was vivid blue even though there was no direct sunlight.
They ate sharp sheep’s milk cheese, bread baked into hard tusks and oranges and drank cloudy, yellow wine. After this, they sat in silence as Flannagan smoked.
“Do you hear anything?” Zakiris asked finally.
Flannagan looked around him then shook his head. A few seconds later he reported some distant noises, the rumble of a truck or tractor on its way to Aerothalusa.
“I do not mean mechanical sounds. There are others. Listen.”
Flannagan shifted his position on the sand and waited, watchful of Zakiris’ reactions. Suddenly the old man’s face began to change. His lips straightened, his eyes became fixed and his body tense. Flannagan raised his eyebrows but Zakiris pressed his forefinger to his lips. Hardly daring to breathe, Flannagan waited. He could hear the gentle movement of water and perhaps something else. He was not sure. It could have been the pebbles being washed by the sea. More minutes elapsed. Then Zakiris spoke.
“Can’t you hear it?”
Zakiris’ voice was loud after the silence. “The voices of the sands.”
“The voices of the sands?”
Flannagan repeated the phrase in his mind. The words were poetic, beautiful.
Zakiris whispered: “They are speaking the language of Chaos.”
Flannagan closed his eyes. This did not make sense. He tried to attune himself to the older man’s mood. Nothing. He reached for the small wine cask and drank deeply then looked at his friend in profile. His face was set with determination, pale against the darkness of the rock behind. The eyes were staring out to the horizon but they sparkled with the liveliness of his thoughts.
Flannagan said: “What is the language of Chaos?”
Zakiris turned quickly and the green eyes were suddenly alien.
“Have you read nothing? Have all these weeks of discussion and guidance been to no avail? What was this education you received at London University? Did you learn to read, to understand anything?”
“Now look here,” Flannagan began but he contolled himself. Zakiris would surely explain. "I have already admitted that my education lacked a great deal. Do not despise me because of it. Surely you have realised how eager I am to learn from you but 1 am sorry if I am not a quick scholar.”
Zakiris’ head bobbed up and down in acceptance.
“Very well,” he said, “this may explain. Before the world was created there was nothing. At least, that is what was first thought. But from nothing you get nothing. This means that there must have been something from which the world could develop. Agreed?”
Flannagan nodded though he sensed that this was the start of yet another interminable discussion on the existence of God, on the acceptance or rejection of the Darwinian Theory. This was the armchair theorising of his youth. He had spent many hours on the subject with his fellow students. Now it was passé.
Zakiris continued: “If you have read Hesiod, you will know that this something in the beginning before the world was created was called Chaos. Chaos was defined as the vast, immeasurable abyss.”
Zakiris pointed towards the horizon.
“And that is where Chaos exists, somewhere far beyond thL earth. It is the place or state of being that you and I knew before we were born. It is also the state of sleep and death. Night is the child of Chaos and so is Erebus, the black void of death.”
Flannagan said: “I did read something of this years ago but I had forgotten it.”
Zakiris ran his hand through the sand and let some sift through his fingers.
“This sand was once part of the cliff,” he said. “This sand was rock. Then it crumbled down under the fury of the elements and became like the pebbles on the sea shore. The sea pounded the pebbles until they finally broke down to become this fine, sandy powder. When it disintegrates altogether it will be like the bones of man, grinding away to nothing and returning at length to Chaos, to the state before existence, before birth. The sand comes from Chaos and returns to Chaos and as it is broken down gradually by the years, it speaks in hushed whispers to Chaos, be-moaning its fate.”
“Do you understand what it says?” Flannagan asked, almost mocking him.
Zakiris looked at him contemptuously. “Why do you test me now? This has not been written. It is a theory that I have formed myself. If I care to imagine what the voices say, of course, I shall understand. I could ask you the same question and doubtless you would think of an answer, imagined as it would be. So do not try to make a fool of me.”
Flannagan said nothing.
“Come,” Zakiris said, pulling himself to his feet. “Our communication has been destroyed this morning. You were not ready for it and because I did not recognise this, I am as much at fault as you are.” He heaved a long sigh. “I am getting old. Perhaps it will not be long before I too will return to Chaos, or to Erebus, the death state or wherever I am going. These walks tax me a little these days. We will return soon if the wind remains low. If it is high, you cannot hear the conversation in the sand.”
“I must go home today,” Flannagan said. “Helen is returning from Athens in a day or so. I must be at the house when she arrives."
“Ah, now I see,” Zakiris said. “You are making excuses. You think that I am becoming frail and you wish to spare me the journey until I feel strong again. You do not have to do that, my friend. I am quite capable of coming back here in a few days.”
“No, I don’t think we should come back for a while,” Flannagan said. “Besides, you recall our conversation about women?”
“I have not made an excuse. This is one of the occasions when I must show a little consideration for Helen. You have agreed that sometimes it must be done. This is one of those times.”
Nodding, Zakiris began to walk. Quickly, Flannagan replaced the foodstuffs in the sack and ran to catch up with him. Together they trudged in the sinking sand back along the beach towards Risavounyi."
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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