Τα βιβλία του Βαγγέλη Ραπτόπουλου

About his books III

Vangelis Raptopoulos’ books   III

BLACK WEDDING (2001), a novel

The story of a black wedding.

Athens, Greece. From the mid-seventies to the present day. Set against the rise and fall of the rock group «The Balkanians». And catalyzed by a hymn, which may be connected to the  Eleusian Mysteries. An unrequited love is stretching the limits of obsession and culminating in a black wedding.

They wrote about «Black Wedding»

«Beyond the course of Modern Greek literature, an archetypal version of the routhless battle between sexes, where the topic involves both the Eleusian Mysteries and the mysteries of the private lives of today’s Athenians.» Menis Koumandareas, «Eleftherotipia», newspaper.

«Raptopoulos’ usual way of not «ending up» his stories, giving way to alleged and conservative absoluts, only to become likeable, but he dares to write without allowing «anyone to silence» him… In «Black Wedding», the story goes on, no matter how strange it may sound, even when the writer himself, has written his last word, in the last chapter of the book.» Yiannis Moutaftsis, «Metrorama», newspaper

«When an experienced prose-writer detests so much the eloquency, the elegance and the tricks of good writing, the most probable is that he has become absorbed by something deeper. The matter with Raptopoulos has to do with what exactly is, anyway, this deeper thing, that is troubling friends and readers… By following the wavings that the narrator indirectly and cunningly introduces (he knows aforehand the timelife of the protagonists, driving them in front and back like in a monitor), we gradually suspect that his deeper belief is that the most common characters, when fatally involved, begin to play the orgiastic instruments of a sacrifice. In the faraway depths of the book ― and not only this ― an axe is going up and down mercilessly.» Kostis Papagiorgis, «Athinorama», magazine

«V. Raptopoulos’ books are controvercial, but this is the undeniable proof that they do not pass unobserved. They are provocative, violent, stressing, paranoic. They flert dangerously with pornography, pulp fiction, the eight o’ clock news, and reality shows. His obsessions are often violent loves, murders, incests. Others hate them, and others are inspired by them and turn them into movies. And there is always a constant number of fans, which believes him to be one of the best writers of his generation. His last novel, BLACK WEDDING, is a story of another one of his obsessions.» Aggeliki Birbili, «Men» magazine [entitled: «Cult fiction»].

«Raptopoulos unfolds with nerve and vitality Joanna’s course to insanity (her repeated fantasies with Michalis come out through embossed images that alternate with movie speed), and while he prepares the reader for the most probable possibility of a cold blooded murder, he turns over the climate at the last moment, with a ridiculous and, inspite of that, instant deadly accident… What is primarily achived by Raptopoulos in «Black Wedding» is to create a trully unpredictable plot and avoid any melodramatic or cynical stereotype. The turning over of his narrative perspective as it steadily shapes in the main body of the book, is correctly and exactly calculated, while in depth takes a deeply ironic tone, that allows him to put the facts in a functional and with reasonable dramatic results distance.» Vangelis Hatzivasiliou, «Kiriakatiki Eleftherotipia», newspaper

A family tragedy. «Vangelis Raptopoulos belongs to that category of writers who know how to surprise and provoke with each of their works, always enjoying the support of the public. Already in his first book, «In Pieces», which he published at the age of twenty, he managed to create a particular kind of aura around his person and won proper attention for it. His latest novel, «Black Wedding», deals with the failure of a marriage and the subsequent despair of the woman, who is led to incest by an indifferent husband and the discovery of a strange hymn from the Eleusinian Mysteries.» Lina Pantaleon, «Ithaca», magazine

«His biggest writing surprise.» «Ethnos», newspaper

Black Wedding (an excerpt)

***

DOES SIMITIS LISTEN TO MITROPANOS? (2001), interviews and articles

This book talks about current Greece. Using as heroes real persons such as those mentioned in the title. From archbishop Christodoulos, the children of the newcoming Albanian refugees and the popular singer Notis Sfakianakis, to the native rapers and the legendary ex-prisoner Koemtzis. And from the local top models and movie star Stratos Tzortzoglou, to my friends and family. A journalistic and at the same time very personal wandering around the sometimes miserable and othertimes magical modern greek scenery of the days of globalization and Internet. Deep inside the theme of Does Simitis Listen to Mitropanos?, it is not just the divorce between the modernizing goverment of prime minister Simitis and the people’s side, represented by one of the most beloved folk singers, Mitropanos. Neither our eternal and almost metaphysical division between West and East. It is our political mania, or at least mine.

They wrote about «Does Simitis Listen to Mitropanos?»

«Vangelis Raptopoulos writes about Greece of today without fear but with passion. The author of «Loula» and «The Bacelor» doesn’t use even in this book any pose or mannerism. He doesn’t try to disguise his words in order to be pleasant (it is evident that when he writes about the «newelders» he addresses and to the literary critics)  but on the contrary he strips them – along with himself – to talk about all ephemeral that happen today around us, transforming them – with his clear view and his sharp pen – to diachronic. The sure thing is that Vangelis Raptopoulos with this book that is far from the fictitious tracks he loves to move as a Real novelist, proves that not only he lives and is inspired from today but doesn’t hesitate to stand, talk about the wrong doings of a «fully commercialized» age, not keeping a safety distance from the «fire» but inhaling the fumes that sometimes and temporarily «choke» him but not gag him». Yiannis Moutaftsis, «Metrorama», newspaper

«Vangelis Raptopoulos belongs to the category of writers, that you buy primarily due to their name. Those in marketing would easily claim that «Vangelis Raptopoulos» is a solid well-built brand name in the local market of writers… «Simitopanos» as we call the book in short, acts as a direct conductor of  the author’s outright truth… What differentiates Raptopoulos from the numerically countable mass of writers that scribble, and from journalists that write, is the admittable by him, attraction to the west pop culture. (That is why the undersigned feels very close or kin to him). We mustn’t forget that Vangelis Raptopoulos has lived in the U.S for some time. The result of all this: Raptopoulos hates the pomposity that possesses a big share of his colleagues. And he abstains from the pretentious literary form. He speaks today’s language and communicates with us with lifestyle codes. To penetrate with the interest of a mystic and the accuracy of a scholastic observer, in the new Hellenic reality and present its discrepancies. In the center of his argument both Greeces, we all experience. One traditionally bends to the East and is ineffaceably affected by its values. The other half, the Greece of globalization, Internet, modernization. Which explains the title of the book, that expresses the oscillation between the European and the popular side of every Greek. «Simitopanos» is a very clear x-ray of the author’s thoughts. Brilliant thoughts that open discussions and raise questions. Isn’t this the role of art?» Yiannis Simandiras, «Anatolia Alumnus», magazine

«A book where greek society catwalks.» «Εpiloges», magazine («Macedonia», newspaper)

«Protagonists, the famous and anonymous Greece, as they occur, sometimes enchanting and at times pitiable, through interviews, portraits, reportage and articles, that compose the personal and journalistic wanderings of the audacious author.» Chrysa Pahoumi, «Tahidromos», magazine («Ta Nea», newspaper)

«V. R. expresses himself in a direct way, dense, sometimes falsely boring, usually vigorous, even when he dabbles in politics. The tone of those texts is warm, personal, sometimes angry or sarcastic, however always reflecting the «metal» of the author’s voice.» Nikos Dokas, «Elefterotipia», newspaper

«The book is a garden. And the pen of Raptopoulos is pleasurable. Penetrating eye, mind as a razor, tongue that doesn’t hesitateΙ How much music can politics include? And they are nice those texts, reflecting the freshness of one of his first books, «The Cicadas», with today’s glance.» Angeliki Vasilakou, «Metro», magazine

«The real life was always his «obsession».» Angeliki Birbili, «Men», magazine

***

MY OWN AMERICA (2002), articles and essays

Imagine that for a period of approximately six years, from spring of ’95 until the begining of 2001, I did not stop writing in my Pulp diaries judgements and observations about the books I read. Like another navigator, I sailed the ocean of contemporary, american, mass literature. And these were my travel diaries.

I spent most of the time with works by Stephen King, Michael Crihton, John Grisham and many more, from Tomas Harris, Dean Koontz, Elmore Leonard and Mario Puzzo, to Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, William Gibson and George Pelecanos. Along with works of cousin of theirs from England, like Tim Willocks, Clive Barker, J. G. Ballard, Ramsey Cambell and John Le Carre. In the meantime, I glanced at popular movie heroes like Indiana Jones and Tarzan, or at tv-series like X-Files. And naturally, I looked back to Aretino, sometimes to Kafka or Borghes, even to global range writers of ours like Kazantzakis. I was also following the dignified authors of today, from Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Pascal Bruckner, to Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Vicram Chandra and Tom Wolfe. Or I took shelter in novelists like Alex Garland or Shimo, and movie directors like Tarantino and Kassovitz, with whom I feel like kin. But usually, I remained in territorial waters of pop culture of the late 20th century.

What exactly was I trying to discover? My own America. So much different from that of Colombus and of the map. The continent where the academic european novel meets the popular american. The continent where a synthesis between high and mass literature takes place.

They wrote about «My Own America»

Vangelis Raptopoulos sensed in time that the revival, the new, the different is carried by pulp fiction and mass culture. His instinct became obsession and the consequence was the author’s last book.. In «My Οwn America», with personal style and vivid arguments, he supports the products of contemporary American mass literature, that kept him in form. «My own America» sounds the alarm to book-eaters. Because the author has read all those he refers to, has loved and wishes to spread to his readers the virus of his enthusiasm. «Τa Nea», newspaper. Sept. 21, 2002

Calendary notes essay-like or just confessions of one of our significant prose-writers, who, being an uneasy and fanatic reader himself ― as it is prooved ―, feels the urge to talk to us about his encounters with the works of other creators, mostly American. Vangelis Raptopoulos does not belong to those who are pretentious. He adores the works of his fellow-writers, American or European, and admits it straight out. In the same way, he expresses his negative remarks about the works of the previous authors, that at other times found them boring or extremely naive. «Eleftherotipia», newspaper. Oct. 25, 2002

«Until when the cultural cemetary that almost all our literary magazines adopt, will prevail here in Greece? Until when people that direct them will publish… interviews with the vampires?». And only with that phrase one understands that Vangelis Raptopoulos dares to call things with their names. In his new book, «My Own America», he dives in the contemporary American pulp fiction and refers to the way books are dealt by the Greek Press, launching a harsh accusation against all those infesting the literary field.«(Literary) Vradini», newspaper. Sept. 21, 2002

Vangelis Raptopoulos is a lover and a researcher of mass culture. And that is why he became the director of a series of contemporary American pulp fiction writers to a valid Greek publishing house. They taunted him, but years later the same publishing house and many others filled with greek versions of the formerly accused american cultural product. In his last book, «My Own America», Raptopoulos probes in this mass culture as an authentic defender and fan. He gives particular attention to how much it expresses the man of today, from sociological, psychological, scientifical, aesthetical aspect, even when this prose-writing is not entirely «literary». He extensively analyzes the works of mass culture, the story, the heroes, the relationships, their aesthetics, trying to understand «why» and «where it is heading to». «Express», newspaper. Oct. 6, 2002

It is evident that the writer’s goal was not only to create ― for the first time in our country ― a book-guide of pulp fiction of today, but to assist to the contemporary subjects of these books by making comments upon whatever changes take place now-adays all over the world and, in some cases, to parallel them with the Modern Greek – European reality. «Metrorama», newspaper. Oct. 29, 2002


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