Drinking from the Blood-Pit is a work of creative nonfiction, which uses Odysseus’s descent to the underworld (Od.10.490-95) as a unifying theme for each of the fourteen pieces included. Each piece is based on a Homeric theme and/or episode that stresses the lessons culled from reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey on the author’s journey from childhood to adulthood. The title of each story indicates the Homeric myth or episode used and is accompanied by a short epigraph from either the Iliad or Odyssey.
The fourteen works are divided into three sections: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The first part, childhood (four stories), describes growing up on the island of Samos, Greece, during the Nazi occupation and the Greek Civil War that followed. The second section, adolescence (four stories), continues the author’s odyssey to the United States, attempting to deal with a new language and becoming acclimated to a foreign culture. The third part, adulthood (six stories), returns the author to his native land as a student of Greek culture struggling to study the censored works of Greek poets under the military government of 1967–1974.