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Profane Feasts, by Tom Tolnay

With an increasing multitude of Greeks stomping around metropolitan New York, the author noticed many of them seemed to be employed as corporals of the service industry—park attendants, apartment painters, supermarket clerks, and, especially, dishwashers, waitresses, and short-order cooks. This circumstance led him to wonder: How did it happen that these custodians, busboys, and counter girls ended up being the last remnants of the ancient architects of Western Civilization?

To explore this question, he began writing storychapters, which followed the exploits of one Greek family transplanted in Brooklyn, NY, as it wrestled to make sense of life in America from the 60s to the end of the 20th century. He used family feasts at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, a wedding, and a funeral as milestones in their journey, and labeled these feasts profane because of the unholy manner in which they were conducted. The profane feasts herein are narrated by Alexandros Dropolous, Jr., as he passes from childhood to young manhood and, ultimately, to his own wedding feast and the baptism of his son.

Whether their adventure had been carefully planned or pursued intuitively, the author believed this family of Greeks in America was using their classical history as a kind of modern-day Trojan horse. The idea was not to topple our government which, after all, is held together by Greco-Roman ideas, but to replace their own lost greatness with the American dream by inserting themselves, patiently and unobtrusively, into one household, one coffee shop, one school, one house of worship at a time.

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