In “Golden Age of Grease,” the second chapter of my new novel, What’s Left, I compress a background history of three generations that lead up to Cassia herself. Thanks to her father’s collected photographs and her aunt Nita’s guidance, she and her best friend forever, cousin Sandra, get a sense of what so attracted him to the entire family. What he saw when he arrived was his vision of an ideal hippie commune working around Carmichael’s, their landmark restaurant. Man, was he in for a surprise!

In a passage I cut from the novel, you could see the generational tension building up to a breaking point:

Not that our family was pacifist, apart from the anti-Vietnam protests – and that was hardly unanimous. Pappa Stavros, in particular, was outspoken in his support for the troops. Remember, we’re Greek, a persecuted people who have survived by our scrappiness.


How much can we look at “home” as a synonym for “family”? Cassia’s family could look to their big pink Victorian house as an emblem of their being together.

How many houses or apartments have you lived in? What’s the most memorable?


Melanzana gemisthi by Stafylis via Wikimedia Commons

In the family, Cassia may have had food like this.

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