Friday, October 16, 2020

"Once We Were Here"

Christopher Cosmos was raised in the Midwest and attended the University of Michigan as the recipient of a Chick Evans Scholarship. In addition to being an author, he is also a screenwriter and has had his work featured in the annual Black List of best Hollywood screenplays of the year. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Cosmos applied the Page 69 Test to Once We Were Here, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Once We Were Here comes at the end of a chapter where two of the main characters, Alexei and Costa, have left their village in Agria, Greece, and gone north to fight against Mussolini's Italians. They fight with the Greek army, and they win, which is actually the very first Allied victory in the whole of the war.

On one hand, one of the main characters, Philia, is missing from this scene, so it could be argued that it's a page that's not the best representation of the story as a whole - as the main thrust of the novel is an epic and generation-spanning love story that's interrupted by war in different ways - but on the other hand, it could be argued that it's the perfect representation of this novel and story. Growing up as a Greek-American, I heard stories of "the war" for as long as I can remember, and it was those stories that I listened to and internalized which led me to writing this novel. Greece played an imperative but forgotten role in WWII, and so reminding so many that it was actually the Greeks that recorded the first Allied victory in Europe is a very good representation of that idea. Also, this specific moment that I've described on page 69 was actually commemorated in America on the cover of Life Magazine in December, 1940, with a picture of a Greek Evzone standing at attention with a bugle at his lips and crumbling Greek ruins in the background behind him, and we have an entire holiday called "Oxi Day" that's dedicated to the memory of Greece's defiance and answering of the world's call for help.

This moment on page 69, though, and of course, is just the beginning of the forgotten role that Greece played in helping the Allies to win WWII, and it's also just the beginning of the story of Alexei, Costa, and Philia. This year is the 80th Anniversary of "Oxi Day," and the events that were described on this page, and as such I invite everyone to join me in celebrating by picking up a copy of Once We Were Here!
Visit Christopher Cosmos's website.

--Marshal Zeringue