Τα βιβλία του Βαγγέλη Ραπτόπουλου

About his books II

Vangelis Raptopoulos’ books   II

OBSESSIONS (1995), a novel composed of twenty-six interconnected short stories and essays

Aris Georgakopoulos. Age 35. Author. All he has written is included here, in Obsessions: short and long stories issued in anthologies, newspapers and magazines, autobiographical excerpts from his diary, essays… His writings cover a twenty year period from 1974 – 1994 and behind them, sometimes vaguely and others clearly, one can catch sight of his own life.  Georgakopoulos relives his adolescent years in the west suburbs of Athens, recalls his failures in love from the times of his studies in Sweden, narrates stories from the Airforce and reforms his experience from the «narrowly ampleness of marriage».  But which are those obsessions the title is referring to?  The answer maybe hides in the heart of this interconnected book, in the pages where Georgakopoulos wonders about the prospects and the value of his art.

In Obsessions, his sixth book, V. Raptopoulos is trying to summarize all of his work until now with his central hero, author Aris Georgakopoulos. Through the hero’s texts we follow his passage from «the shady forest of adolescence» until  «the narrowly ampleness of marriage». One short-story has been translated into English and one in Czech. One more has become a teleplay entitled The Hoods, in 1996, directed by Dimitris Vernikos, screenplay written by the author.

They wrote about «Obsessions»

«The hero ― and the narrator ― could be one and the same person with V. Raptopoulos (both born in 1959). The obsessions of one could be the obsessions of the other, but also of the whole generation which begins to realize itself after the fall of dictatorship in 1974.  The author creates a charming narrating puzzle, whose pieces compose a real slice of life… And above all the torturing relationship with writing itself, with literature as an obsession.» Nikos Bakounakis, «Marie Claire», magazine

«Post-modern narrative strategy, that shakes the certainties of the average reader.» «To Vima tis Kiriakis», newspaper

«If previously Raptopoulos was influenced by us, in these anarchic and transitional times we live we could derive from his writings new ideas.» Menis Koumandareas, «I lexi», literary magazine.

«Maybe the best work by V. Raptopoulos until now.» «Eleftheros Tipos», newspaper

***

ΛΟΥΛΑ 2013LOULA (1997), a novel

Trying to reach the climax of carnal pleasures at any cost, a beautiful, anorgasmic student of Greek Literature in the university of Athens, confronts a nightmarish aspect of lust.

She is twenty years old and astoundingly beautiful. And at the same time, prudish, insecure and innocent. Her big problem is she can’t reach an orgasm. Not even the natural skills of her boyfriend, nor the advice of her sexually experienced roommate, nor masturbation under the influence of marijuana, nor perversions… can lead her to the desirable effect. And suddenly she falls in the arms of a weird man. Along with him she will dive in a world of carnal pleasures and delusions, hiding in the center of Athens. But if it is only about delusions, how come Loula vanishes? What exactly happened to her? Has she finally confronted a completely realistic, nightmarish aspect of lust?

A book which is at the same time: a novel of psychological realism and ideas, a parody of sentimentalism, a daring erotic story, a narration of supernatural terror and a detective thriller.

A novel about female orgasm and its absence. About the use of cannabis. About sexual perversions as asphyxiofilia. About lust as a nightmare of the East. About vampires in Ahaia of the previous century. About worlds of other dimensions in contemporary Athens. And about the world of psychoses.

They wrote about «Loula»

«»Loula» can be classified with difficulty.  Realistic narration, almost pornography in the beginning, literature of terror and thriller in the middle, psychotic delirium or video-clip in the third part… «Loula» is a step in the vague territory that none from our «accomplished» writers has ever reached. Where does this talented, as well as unpredictable, prose-writer belong?» Menis Koumandareas, «To Vima tis Kiriakis», newspaper

«Fascinating talent in creating unexpected situations. Virtuosity in penetrating the obvious and in transforming the worthless into a vast tank of psychography.  In similar darings it is required to have writing experience, spiritual strength and above all character… Raptopoulos can fairly believe that he earned a difficult bet.  With books like «Loula» a generation can show its teeth.» Kostis Papagiorgis, «Athinorama», magazine

«Vangelis Raptopoulos (1959-), one of the main representatives of Greek fiction of the 1980s, places sex systematically at the heart of his preoccupations and themes: to a greater extent in his novels and to a lesser extent in his short stories. His originality (and for many the most interesting thing about his writing – he is a writer popular with a wide section of the public) lies in the fact that he attempts to assimilate the lessons he learned in his younger days from the writers of the so-called «Great Classics» with the corresponding lessons of contemporary American commercial writers, into whose work he was initiated at a more mature age: King, Crichton, Clancy, Grisham etc. The influences on Vangelis Raptopoulos are directly related to American cinema, mainly to the pulp fiction school of Quentin Tarantino.

»Moving steadily on the contemporary Greek scene, mainly urban, Raptopoulos tells stories which flirt with detective fiction, horror fiction and pure pornography. His novels «Loula» (1997) and «The Bachelor» (1993) are characteristic examples of his style. In the first, a beautiful young female student, who however is frigid, wildly seeks sexual fulfillment and finds it, along with death, when she meets a sick killer. In the second, a black comedy with overtones of Kafka’s «Metamorphosis», the women the book’s hero falls in love with all turn (by magic?) into prostitutes working for a mysterious pimp. His novella «The Game» (1998) is also indicative: moving the action out into the open air, the author shows us how the daring games between two children can end disastrously. With his fanatical insistence on realistic writing which reaches its apogee in the detailed descriptions of the sexual scenes, Vangelis Raptopoulos depicts people in the process of falling apart; the more they seek adventure and pleasure, the more they sink into an existential void which simply confirms the inability of contemporary man to exist essentially and authentically». From the article: «Extremes of Eroticism in Modern Greek Literature», by Elias Maglinis, «Ιthaca», Books from Greece No 23, February 2003

Loula (an excerpt)

***

THE GAME, A story of Limni (1998),  novella

In the heat of the summer, in a seaside hotel of Limni Ahaias, the young love between the son of the owner and the daughter of a maid gloriously awakens and reaches its horrifying peak.

«It has been a long time since I conceived «The Game». I knew from the beginning that the central theme of my story was the sexual awakening of a boy, this very vertiginous moment that he buries his face between the naked legs of a girl, the ritual acquaintance of the flesh. As I also knew that what followed was «the fall from innocence».» From the author’s introduction: «Welcome to Limni Ahaias».

The Game is the third book by Vangelis Raptopoulos that explicitly refers to the fictitious seaside village, called Limni Ahaias. Preceding it «It is not me», a short story from Obsessions (1995), and his novel Loula (1997), parts of which took place in Limni of our days, but also to that of the 19th century. His ninth book, Sad and Deep as You (1999), is placed in the same village, including a complete map of Limni Ahaias.

They wrote about  «The Came»

«»The Game» is nothing but the myth of androgynous ― common in many religions ― that offers the opportunity to describe the aphrodisiac theater, in its unbiased as well as in its profound aspect.  The prize is heavy, so the author surrenders without any eccentricity.  The most direct, the most obvious thing, if you get to the bottom of it, it may become abyssal.  And the result is not despicable at all ― especially in terms of spiritual strength, the narration reveals the biggest familiarity with the underground streams of life.» Kostis Papagiorgis, «Athinorama», magazine

«The narration of the first initiation in love-making composes a dark sex-thriller: the adolescent sighs are mixed with agony, imaginary pictures from the past causes the first morsels of jealousy, while the climax is worthy of a… David Lynch.  The author of the 80’s belongs to the 90’s!» «Status», magazine

«Inspite the big sex doses that contains, «Τhe Game» is in fact a mournful book.  A porno theology!» Mimis Androulakis, «Flash» radiostation

«Vangelis Raptopoulos (1959-), one of the main representatives of Greek fiction of the 1980s, places sex systematically at the heart of his preoccupations and themes: to a greater extent in his novels and to a lesser extent in his short stories. His originality (and for many the most interesting thing about his writing – he is a writer popular with a wide section of the public) lies in the fact that he attempts to assimilate the lessons he learned in his younger days from the writers of the so-called «Great Classics» with the corresponding lessons of contemporary American commercial writers, into whose work he was initiated at a more mature age: King, Crichton, Clancy, Grisham etc. The influences on Vangelis Raptopoulos are directly related to American cinema, mainly to the pulp fiction school of Quentin Tarantino.

»Moving steadily on the contemporary Greek scene, mainly urban, Raptopoulos tells stories which flirt with detective fiction, horror fiction and pure pornography. His novels «Loula» (1997) and «The Bachelor» (1993) are characteristic examples of his style. In the first, a beautiful young female student, who however is frigid, wildly seeks sexual fulfillment and finds it, along with death, when she meets a sick killer. In the second, a black comedy with overtones of Kafka’s «Metamorphosis», the women the book’s hero falls in love with all turn (by magic?) into prostitutes working for a mysterious pimp. His novella «The Game» (1998) is also indicative: moving the action out into the open air, the author shows us how the daring games between two children can end disastrously. With his fanatical insistence on realistic writing which reaches its apogee in the detailed descriptions of the sexual scenes, Vangelis Raptopoulos depicts people in the process of falling apart; the more they seek adventure and pleasure, the more they sink into an existential void which simply confirms the inability of contemporary man to exist essentially and authentically». From the article: «Extremes of Eroticism in Modern Greek Literature», by Elias Maglinis, «Ιthaca», Books from Greece No 23, February 2003

The Game: Amazon.com

***

SAD AND DEEP AS YOU (1999),  seven interconnected stories

«I often say to myself that all of us in damp darkness are born, and maybe in a suchlike damp darkness come back when we die.  In the meanwhile and while we are still alive, we park in the dampness of love, that scratching the wound relieves us temporarily…»

Sweet is the life here in Limni Ahaias.  But not always.  Here is a love-sick guy humiliated in harbour’s «Butterfly» bar.  Or the alcoholic father, in the nearby shabby-house,  that drives his daughter to the edge.  Sensible or beasts, the men of our times.  Further down, in a room of «Limni Beach» hotel, a lawyer bends from loss.  While, at the seaside, some local dives in guilt.  What if money and success are glorified nowadays?  Under the surface there is pain.  Outside the village now, at Villes, the sick soul of a famous tv-host bursts out.  And in the car workshop, across the cemetery, between two brothers a Russian hooker.  Greece at the era of CNN and Internet.  Until the cliff, high in Profitis Ilias’ hill, where someone «sad and deep as you» lives the miracle.  Because life in Limni Ahaias can also be a dream.

SAD AND DEEP AS YOU, V. Raptopoulos ninth book, is a work with unity of place and atmosphere: seven stories connected to the fictitious, seaside Limni Ahaias ― seven variations on the theme of falling in love and dying in the end of the 20th century.

They wrote about «Sad and Deep as You»

«V.R. writes about the «strange circus» that Greece has become.  Through murders and suicides, he gives us different aspects of a rather disgusting, almost monstrous society.» Mari Theodosopoulou, «To Vima tis Kiriakis», newspaper

«One of our few authors, whose writings bring you joy». Nikos Dokas, «Eleftherotipia», newspaper

«After eliminating inside him every bit of literary coquetry, Raptopoulos surrendered himself in pulp fiction ― «he types his typewriter with the belly» as the American writers say». Kostis Papagiorgis, «Athinorama», magazine

«Under the superficial power of money and success, stirs unsatisfied desire, lust that reaches delusion, revenge, unfaithfulness, violence.» METRO,«Metro», magazine

***

THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF POPE JOAN (2000), a novel

Vangelis Raptopoulos rewrites the classic novel by Emmanuel Rhoides (Pope Joan, 1886, translated into English by Lawrence Durell). The story of the She-Pope whose life has been the subject of theological controversy from the Middle Ages until today. The story of the mysterious Pope John VIII, who at the age of 38, in 854 ― 9th century ― ruled Cristendom from the seat of the Supreme Pontiff for two years, five months and four days.

Europe, in the heart of Middle Ages. A nun hides her sex and succeeds in becoming God’s representative upon earth. To face her female nature. And the fall.

«John, of English extraction, was born at Mentz and is said to have arrived at Popedom by evil art; for disguising herself like a man, whereas she was a woman, she went when young with her paramour, a learned man, to Athens and made such progress in learning under the professors there, that, coming to Rome, she met with few that could equal, much less go beyond her, even in the knowledge of the scriptures;  and by her learned and ingenius readings and disputations, she acquired so great respect and authority that upon the death of Leo by common consent she was chosen Pope in his room.  As she was going to the Lateran Church between the Colossean Theatre and St. Clement’s her travail came upon her, and she died upon the place having sat two years, one month and four days and was buried there without any pomp.» Platina: Lives of the Popes.

«The most obvious reason for rewriting Pope Joan (because of which I was thinking to entitle my novel: The Man Who Was a Woman) has to do with the female sex and more precisely with gynaecocracy, the matriarchy that rises in our days. The incredible story of the book, could also be taken as an allegory exploring the dangers confronted by women, when they chase and achieve to conquer power. The terrible dangers that await them if they deceive themselves that they can deny their sex and nature. And they attempt to imitate men to such a degree, so as not only to impersonate them, but finally become the same with them!» Vang. Raptopoulos: «Rewriting Pope Joan».

They wrote about «The Incredible Story of Pope Joan»

«»The Incredible Story of Pope Joan» begins like an entertainment full of suspense, sex, medieval atmosphere and philosophical theories, that unfolds in speedy rhythms.  But on a second level, it questions the reader about hot social issues of today.  In that sense, Raptopoulos novel is a double book that sides with contemporary international literary scene, that wants novels to combine pulp fiction with highly acclaimed culture». Mikela Hartoulari, «Ta Nea», newspaper

«A catchy, vivid and enjoyable novel.» «Ethnos», newspaper

«Enjoyable, with speedy successions of images and situations, and with a very realistic, almost raw record of sex scenes, the new ― according to V. Raptopoulos ― version of Pope Joan’s story. A «sinfull» and «blasphemous» piece of work. A must read.» Nikos Dokas, «Eleftherotipia», newspaper

«The author V. R. has spread weeds in the Greek literary scene.  This time he may justify more than any other time this attempts of his…  His cinematographic narrative style refers to now, showing to the reader that Ioanna’s case is a contemporary myth, still in value.  Cynical women and their self-destructive relationship with power can be today’s yuppies, members of the parliament or other women working in public domain.» Giannis Baskozos, «Express», newspaper

L’incredibile storia della Papessa Giovanna (the first five chapters in Italian) | Published in Italian by «Crocetti» editions, 2002 (translation: Luigi Casciola) | «Diario italiano» (translation: Giuseppina Dilillo)

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