My Greek Books
Greek-American Author Harry Mark Petrakis has passed on, but he left an enduring legacy. His books brought Greek-Americans to the mainstream. Gave us a voice. His stories were quintessential Chicago. I’ve often waxed poetic about my literary idol. I’m blessed to have communicated with him. I’ll miss his emails. I can still hear his voice on the other end of the phone. Did I look up to this man? Absolutely. Beyond his subject matter, his rich words are a literary treasure trove for any writer and reader. His stories touched the heart and left an indelible mark. He’ll never be forgotten.
I thought it a good time to pay a humble tribute to the late author. I tried to find all the book reviews, all the interviews, and they seem to be scattered among devices. And the earliest ones were in print only. Since the early 2000s, I’d written about the author for several publications, including The Greek Star newspaper, The National Herald, GreekReporter, and later for my own WindyCity Greek magazine.
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Harry Mark Petrakis’ Library
Petrakis published about 24 books and countless short stories. Here’s a list of his books:
1959: Lion at My Heart (Boston, Little, Brown)
1963: The Odyssey of Kostas Volakis (David McKay Company)
1965: Pericles on 31st Street (Quadrangle Books)
1965: The Founder’s Touch: the life of Paul Galvin of Motorola (McGraw-Hill)
1966: A Dream of Kings (David McKay Company)
1969: The Waves of Night, and Other Stories (David McKay Company)
1970: Stelmark: A Family Recollection (David McKay Company)
1970 & 1983: Reflections: A Writer’s Life, A Writer’s Work (Lake View Press)
1973: In the Land of Morning (David McKay Company)
1976: The Hour of the Bell (Doubleday)
1978: A Petrakis Reader (Doubleday)
1979: Nick the Greek (Doubleday)
1983: Days of Vengeance (Doubleday)
1987: Collected Stories (Lake View Press)
1990: Ghost of the Sun (St. Martin’s Press)
1998: Henry Crown: the life and times of the Colonel Co-authored with David B. Weber (Henry Crown & Company)
1999: Tales of the Heart: Dreams and Memories of a Lifetime (Ivan R. Dee)
2003: Twilight of the Ice (Southern Illinois University Press)
2003: Reach Out: The Story of Motorola and Its People (Quebecor World/Kingsport)
2004: The Orchards of Ithaca (Southern Illinois University Press)
2008: The Shepherds of Shadows– A sequel to The Hour of the Bell (Southern Illinois University Press)
2007: Legends of Glory and Other Stories (Southern Illinois University Press)
2010: Cavafy’s Stone and other village tales (Wicker Park Press)
2012: Journal of a Novel (Dunelnd Books)
2014: Song of My Life (University of South Carolina Press)
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Petrakis stories in the movies
A Dream of Kings was not only was a New York Times Bestseller, but it was made into a movie in 1969, starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas. In a 2010 interview, I asked Petrakis about it. He said the lead character Matsoukas, “was one of my favorites. I revisited him in the sequel, Ghost of the Sun. Quinn loved it and tried for two years to get it produced, but it never materialized.”
First published work
Among his most famous works is his first published short story, “Pericles on 31st Street.” I asked him about this in a long-ago interview. Here’s what he had to say.
“After many years of trials and tribulations, in 1957, the short story “Pericles on 31st Street” appeared in Atlantic Monthly. Back then I was selling real estate; things were tough. I got a note that they were buying ’Pericles’. There was a furry of excitement. I remember I sat down and began to cry—for so many things—for writing, for more. My father had died; he had great faith that this would happen, but he wasn’t there to see it. After many years of sacrifice, it was finally happening.”~ Harry Mark Petrakis, 2010
This story launched an amazing career and made him one of Chicago’s best-known authors.
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He left this earth on February 2, 2021 but left a lasting imprint on this earth. May his memory be eternal.
REVIEW: Petrakis’ Song of My Life (WindyCity Greek, 2015)
In the Land of Morning (My Greek Books-January 2021)