August in the Vanishing City (novel)

Yes! You said it better.

Also I just remembered a part – when Petros loses his father, he thinks something like “now she and I can understand each other” but Joanna shakes her head as if to say “it’s not the same”.

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Okay, you guys keep going while I stew on those concerns for a bit.

Hey guys, taking a step back up to domains for a moment. Having reread through the first five chapters or so, we see Elias pretending not to know anything about the dead kid in order to get info about him (IC) Petros seeing Joanna and running through town after her (RS), Petros meeting with Elias and Stelios at the restaurant (OS) and then Petros writing letters and finally sending them only to try to get them back.

This last part seems really tied in to the RS, but is this the beginning of a proper MC throughline? The physics would be that the letters are moving through the mail and he is unable to stop them. Or maybe, if we zoom out a bit, he’s physically expressing himself by sending letters to Joanna and Elias. The Sign Post might be Doing-letters moving through the mail-or possibly, and this one seems much weaker, Learning in that information has been gathered in the letters, so to speak.

update: now that i’ve posted it, i’m not going to delete it. But i don’t think it makes as much sense as I was hoping it might. Doesn’t seem right, now.

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Don’t feel bad – most of that makes sense. I find the MC throughline confusing too (but not because anything felt wrong to me – I think it’s just an example of how creatively the storyform can be used when it’s all coming from the subconscious).

Anyway, going back to OS for a minute, I was thinking how a really good way to explain is to take an MC throughline in The Past, like say The Harry Potter series. Harry’s personal issues are all about: a) an event that happened in the past (“the boy who lived”), and b) the fact that he had these wonderful heroic parents that he can never really know, nor experience their love, because they died and are thus stuck forever in his past. A big source of conflict for him is the possibility of resurrecting them in various ways, like the Mirror of Erised in the first book. Another big conflict is not having parents (living under the Dursleys; no one to sign his Hogsmeade field trip form, etc.).

So, that was an MC throughline, but if you sort of twist it and make it more objective and encompass the Overall Story, it really makes a good analogy to AitVC. Instead of Voldemort’s attack on Harry’s parents you have the 1974 invasion; instead of discontent over not having parents, you have discontent over Turkish occupation. Instead of resurrection you have Filiki Eteria wanting to plant a flag.

Does that make sense?

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Yeah me too actually, which is surprising given how much is in his POV. Before re-reading and having this discussion, I would have guessed that the story was mostly MC. But I’m having trouble separating it from the other throughlines.

@mlucas I’m not going to quote everything you said about Harry Potter but yeah that’s basically how it feels to me. Faulkner quote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (Which makes me think I should read Requiem for a Nun to see if that even makes sense.)

Great idea @mlucas! I will start reading, but don’t wait for me. I could take some time to finish it but I will be following along and add where I can.


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My current best guess at a storyform has Doing as the first MC Signpost.

It’s not that I find the Mc throughline confusing. I just don’t have a good idea of what it even is for Petros, which makes it weird to look for a storyform for it. I can’t find a good overall description of Petros story-like ‘the boy who lived’-that doesn’t also seem really tied to another throughline.


I had to think about this and I’m not having an easy time articulating it.

He’s at a crossroads in his life. He’s finishing the army, he’s disillusioned. Everyone expects him to go on to the university, do big things with his life, but what he really wants is the love of this woman that he has no idea how to get. He doesn’t want to work for his uncle.

Assuming we’re still set on him in Physics (unless this is a broken story, I think there’s no way he’s not in Physics), the theory book has us asking these “I” questions:

“What am I involved in? How do I get what I want? What must I learn to do the things I want to do? What does it mean for me to have (or lose) something?”


I think you nailed it @Lakis, or at least we’re getting really close.

He’s flailing around, struggling to understand what he wants to do with his life. He’s a rat in the maze of life, bouncing off the walls while trying to understand what he should do.

I think Joanna is a big part of that, but it’s not the same as a Mind throughline where the source of conflict is his love for her. Instead the source of conflict is not understanding what to do about his feelings, so he ends up flailing around with her too.

I think with that description, you can put Joanna and working for his uncle and finishing in the army and his involvement with Filiki Eteria as all similar things, all the same MC perspective on the same inequity.


Yes, that feels right to me. In a way the source his personal problem is really “what do I do now?”

I think if you look at those questions from the theory book, I could see the last one “What does it mean for me to have (or lose) something?” (obviously Obtaining) as relevant but I think the second one “How do I get what I want?” (Understanding) is more on the nose.

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While we’re on the MC throughline, maybe we should talk about MC Issue? I don’t think we covered this at all before.

Out of the 4 Variations under Understanding, the two that really stand out for me are:

  • Instinct: When we talk about him flailing around he does it all instinctively and this causes difficulties, exacerbating his personal issues. Sending Joanna the letters, then going after them. His instinctive reaction to being mistreated in the cafe. How he moves around in Varosha, kind of choosing his route instinctively, following his impulses. Sending “SOS” with the flashlight. Even going into Varosha was an impulse.
  • Interpretation: Interpreting meaning from things he sees or hears about is an important part of his throughline. How he interprets the soldier who got shot as being an ignoble death; how he interprets the rumours of Elias & Joanna, and seeing them together; how he interprets Joanna’s feelings and sexual advances; how she interprets his letters, etc.

Geez, when initially writing the above I was leaning more for Instinct, but Interpretation seems pretty strong too. (However, part of that might be that I’m mixing up some of the conflict coming from the Understanding Concern, since interpretation and understanding are pretty similar concepts. Still, I’d say both are pretty strong.)

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I admit I get fuzzy at this level – like you said, is it Understanding or Interpretation?

That said I should point out that the dynamic pair/counterpoint to Instinct is Conditioning. This maybe is where you get obsessive pushups but also the crazy hazing that you see in the army, and the army training. If you can look at Conditioning as “following orders” then pretty much the entire trip to Vasosha is an instinctive reaction to that. Actually quite a bit of the book involves disregarding of orders in favor of instincts.

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So here’s where I think I’m struggling with Petros and Physics. First, though, I agree @lakis that, assuming There is a storyform, Petros MC would definitely be in Physics. I just really want to have a single, one line, maybe even only half a sentence description of Petros’ genre problems. I don’t know that this is structurally necessary (remember the thread about four completely distinct tales functioning as a single complete story? What about 16 completely distinct storytelling scenes functioning as a complete story?) but it really helps me to have that description in mind.

Because everything Petros does is extremely tied in to Joanna, it’s hard to separate from the RS without that description. I’d like to think I was on the right track that those letters being sent is in MC SP1, but it’s also easy to think of letters in the mail as a Situation instead of Physics. It’s also much easier to think of that as Plot and not Genre.

Anyway, after reading the descriptions you guys wrote, I think there are two ways I personally am starting to like as a description of the genre of his throughline. 1. Tied in with the sending of the letters is the kids father giving him the flag, so ‘raising The flag’ is one, but comes in a little late since he’s already having problems with retrieving the letters and feels a little OS-y. But then there’s 2. Something along the lines of Impressing Joanna. This one sounds like Physics to me through and through. sending the letters seems like a very touchy feely internal kind of ‘impressing’ but I think it works as a Physics description.

The last thing I want to mention here is that a lot of the conflict in that fourth or fifth chapter feels like it’s coming from an internal source, but I think that’s just my-the audience’s- reception of that.

Okay, now I’m feeling good about Physics, so back to Concerns for me again. You guys keep on with Issues and I’m sure I’ll interrupt the flow of conversation again tomorrow!


Going back to this now. If you read Lakis’s post and Greg’s post we have several ideas for Goals. Here are a bunch of the suggestions that resonated with me:

  • making a statement that Varosha is (still) Greek
  • Friends Society: asserting our dignity, showing we’re still here and you must reckon with us
  • Friends Society: finally taking care of unfinished business, shaking loose the frozen situation from 1974

We’ve also got the inequity setup by the First Driver: “the absurdity of a soldier dying on the Green Line – nothing is changed, his death might as well have had no meaning” – so it would be good if the Goal can be seen as a response to that inequity.

With all that, and consider the Goal as relating to The Past, what about something like these?

  • Bringing meaning from the city that used to be ours
  • Uncovering something meaningful in the city that used to be ours

I like those because they would include both putting up the flag (the meaning that would give to the city, at least briefly while people can see it) and taking back the diary/photograph. Basically, Petros, as Protagonist, is trying to make the past (and all the pain they’ve sufered since 1974) matter.

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Is “Recovering that which was lost” too non-specific?

I feel like that kind of encompasses all of it.


this is also absolutely central.

I almost feel like there was a fork in the road of history, and everyone wants to find a way to go back and figure out how to take a different path.

“Rectifying the past.”

“Salvaging that which has passed away.”

Or something.

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Nope. (Cars has this, so you might need to orient toward Universe a bit more…) By the way, I still haven’t read it, but I’ve been watching the thread.

@Greg @Lakis @mlucas Is it possible that there’s a sub-story that intermingles with things, or is it just the depth of the novel that is making it more difficult? Like I said, I haven’t read it, yet, so that’s only conjecture from your posts.


Great question! I don’t think there’s a sub-story; the novel’s not that long, and in many ways the storyform seems really clear to me. I think what makes analysis complicated is the intricate Storyweaving. All the throughlines are SUPER tightly woven together, which makes pulling them apart for analysis difficult. (But it also makes for a more fascinating story IMO.)

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No, I agree with Hunter, I think it’s perfect! Because even putting up the flag would’ve been a way to recover the lost city a little.

If we want to make it more Universe specific like @Hunter suggested, then maybe “Recovering what has been lost to the past” or “recovering that which was lost in 1974” might work.

Keep in mind some of the more obscure Concerns often get Goals like this. e.g. “figuring out how to make family life work” (Conceptualizing - Eat Drink Man Woman). I don’t think yours is any more vague.

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Ha! Surprised I didn’t remember that.

Okay then, I’m good with “Recovering that which was lost” (either with or without “in 1974”)!