Vangelis Raptopoulos’ books IV
MY GENERATION: IN PIECES, TOLL GATES, THE CICADAS (2003), a trilogy
Vangelis Raptopoulos’ first three books, In Pieces (1979), Toll Gates (1982), The Cicadas (1985), after several ― publishing, tv [Watch the TV mini-series based on Toll Gates, here: I, II, III, IV | And here: I, II] and other ― adventures, are republished in one volume, under the general title: My Generation.
«Sleepy and tired, exhausted by the endless lessons, the hurried loves, the thousand deadends and its dim targets, the crowd drew us to it and captured us…»
My Generation. A trilogy. In the first part, In Pieces, we watch snapshots from the life of an adolescent, crazy like cartoons, truthful like a documentary film. The second part, Toll Gates, gives life to the works and days of a group of teenagers preparing for university entrance exams. And finally, The Cicadas, based in a true incident, unfolds the story of an attempted robbery of a district tax office by a group of boys and girls. [The Cicadas: Amazon.co.uk]
There are common characters in the three works and pages where the groups intercross, adolescent souls vibrate everywhere, and loves and friendships flower or unravel, while the scenery is usually the Athenian, west poor suburbs of the eighties. But what connects even more the separated parts of this fictional trilogy is the collective characteristics of a whole generation in its first steps.
«We all live in a huge novel. The author’s duty is to invent reality».
The story of Charlie’s revenge who takes on the task of protecting the somewhat raped by her bosses Zeta, and the story of Christos Triantafilopoulos’ running away abroad, disgusted with «Greece-istan», crosses the portrait of a family which starts at the bottom and scales the heights of society, proving that the country’s classes remain in a mess.
Shipowners and television heads, supermodels and gym instructors, night club security guards and journalists, idle upper and lower class housewives. A display of stimulating contemporary heroes, in a cinematic-like narration, where comedic and serious tones alternate. A novel concerning present day Greece, in all its glory and in all its decadence.
WE LOST DAD (2005), a novel
Twenty years ago, the father of the thirty year old Aggelos Georgiadis abandoned them for the sake of mum’s sister. Now Dad’s death will bring the rest of the family members together. And in the son’s posession a notebook will find its way, where his father describes the initial phase of his love for aunt Tina. While reading the manuscript, Aggelos will be lead to a written re-examination of his own life, which reminds an impromptu psychotherapy. How was he affected by the absence of the father figure? What was the meaning of the jocular incidents that upset their block of flats the night his father left? Why was his precious relationship with a divorced mother named Stella broke? And what kind of role will aunt Tina play now? Son Georgiadis will attempt to explore his past and also his present, seeking redemption.
A novel which indirectly refers to Dad’s, the male model’s, absence in the modern world. In the foreground, a youthful and a mature love, with their variations and their parallelisms. And in the background, sometimes heart-breaking and sometimes tender and funny, the narration of a late coming of age.
A BIT OF HISTORY OF MODERN GREEK LITERATURE (2005), interviews and essays
«Could this book be considered as a History of Modern Greek literature? Of course not. That is why I added in its title the expression a bit of. Firstly, it barely covers the two decades from 1985 to 2005, a comically short period of time. Furthermore, the authors and works mentioned here, were choosen arbitrarily and do not map anything else, but my own taste. I also suspect that I speak less of them and their job and more about mine. […]
»The opinions I express on the following pages, are usually contrary to the prevailing, mainstream view, of our time, concerning the works of many of my collegues. And often clash with the established hierarchy. Maybe sometime I will be proven right. Maybe not. The title I have chosen, refers to the only certain thing, for which the texts of this book literally yell. If there is something that I am devoted to, it is the History of Modern Greek Literature. A bit of it, or a lot of it. Of the present or of the future». From the Author’s Preface
FRIENDS (2006), a novel
«In our times of selfishness, they say that true friendship tends to disappear, but we were the exception…»
From the refugees of Asia Minor and the western quarters of Athens at the times of the Greek junta, to the northern suburbs of the Olympic Games. And from the left-wing demonstrations of the late 70s, to the anti-terrorist hysteria of our days.
Historical moments, but also love affairs, marriages, divorces, funerals, relationships with parents, siblings and children, a tantalising disease, a quiz show which advertises advertisement and an almost ideal friendship that still exists.
ANCIENT RECIPE: HERODOTUS, HERACLITUS, LUCIEN (2006)
Take seven stories from Herodotus, add five dialogues by Lucien
and stir in forty fragments from Heraclitus.
This is my «ancient recipe».
An attempt to create a contemporary novel based on ancient ingredients. As well as a guide to life.
THE GREAT SAND (2007), a novel
An Aegean island in the background; loves as difficult as only today loves can be, and a murder that reminds of other times. A novel about the Greece that disappears and changes; that it has already changed. Or maybe, deep down, it remains the same?
«Later on I would understand that the Great Sand was not only the little Aegean island of the same name where Amalia and I went for our last Carnival. Neither was it Greece, just this endless chain of sandy beaches, as I had thought at some point of time. It was also the sand-dust from the ancient marbles, and the quicksand of such an age-long historic sequence ― the very idea of country itself that almost turns to dust in our days. No, the Great Sand was and still is after all too many things and also nothing; nothing and, at the same time, all things together.
»It is first and foremost love, always love, that dominates this novel, with all its too many faces, one hidden inside the other, like the Babushkas. The love between me and Amalia, between her and Diamandis, between him and Dora or between Gabriel and Rita, the judge’s wife. It was love, yes, the great quicksand in our little lives, that when you get caught in its clutches, fortunately, you are burned and cannot be saved. Love, and the other side of the same coin, death.
»But the greatest of any Great Sand is definitely the time that passes and our life that runs and disappears like grains of sand drifting through our fingers ― the grains of sand of the eternal time-keeper, the sand-glass.
»Yet, the day that Amalia and I arrived at the island, this lost in the fog of the past Saturday in March, I was still totally unsuspecting».
The Great Sand (the first five chapters) | The Great Sand (a summary in «Apiliotis»/EKEMEL) | The Great Sand (a few words in «Ithaca») | Sabbia Grande (the first two chapters in Italian) | Spuren im Sand (the first chapter in German, from «Apiliotis»/EKEMEL)