A Collar for Cerberus
by Matt Stanley
Never meet your heroes…
A naïve English graduate arrives in Greece seeking experience and perhaps an encounter with his literary hero: Nobel laureate and irascible old hell-raiser Irakles Bastounis. Agreeing to act as driver for Bastounis, the young man finds himself on a hectic, adventurous and always challenging tour of Greece’s wonders – an apprentice in how to live life to the fullest.
As the road trip progresses, the questions arise. Is Bastounis still an addict? Who is following him and why? Is he researching his final, much-anticipated novel? Who are the people he’s meeting along the way? And how far will one young man ultimately go in the name of experience?
A Collar for Cerberus is a story about time, life, pleasure and the decisions we make.
I was kindly given an e-ARC of the book by the publishers and NetGalley in return for an honest review.
First of all, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting this book to be as good and as wonderfully written as it was, for it to have such valuable lessons in it. This book is a hidden gem and I hope I get to read more from this author because damn, he can write!
Confession time here, I am not sure I am going to be able to write a review that could do this any justice. I am going to try to do that anyway.
The book starts with a freshly graduated young man in his twenties visiting Greece on his own. It was an impulsive decision on his part and perhaps one of the only decisions he had really taken with some input of his own. He decides to visit Dimitsana, Greece because he wanted to get a glimpse of his literary hero, Irakles Bastounis. Irakles is a Nobel prize winner along with being one of the best novelists of his times. For the young man, meeting Bastounis is dream come true in idea however when he does meet his hero, it turns out that Bastounis isn’t just the Noble prize winner or one of the best novelists in the world, he is also devastatingly human.
The initial theme of the book seemed to be ‘Never meet your heroes.’ And it sticks true to that for a while because frankly, Bastounis bullies the younger man into driving him around Greece for no payment, he is constantly making the younger man aware of how out of depth he really is.
However as the story progresses, we begin to see the novelist as a human who has really lived his life. Who still lives it with the same vigor if not in physical sense then in emotional sense, Bastounis is a man who has seen a lot in his life and in his own irascible ways, and he is trying to teach some lessons to younger man.
The duo then drives around Greece and the younger man experiences many new things, he is shown many places of historical importance, meets new people who, in their own way, teach him new ways of living life. There are so many moments in the book where I wanted to pause and savour the dialogues, there were many mentions of various books that I had to look up because I hadn’t really heard/ read them. I am kinda interested in reading them now, I am not sure if I am going to add them to my Goodreads yet.
There is Greece food, a veritable feast really and frankly, I was just getting hungry as I was reading those scenes. Such beautiful imagery, god! I wanted to go out and have some Greek food. The sheer beauty of the language used by the author was so good. Every new chapter was rich with descriptions and teeming with life.
By the end of the book, I felt like I also learned some lessons along with the young man which was such a good feeling? Throughout the book, we come to know that despite Bastounis’ acidic tones and observations, the younger man isn’t completely thick, he does have a dry wit and he uses it very well. There’s no set plot however it’s literally the journey that counts in this book.
The vivid descriptions of Greece, the way every secondary character is presented and the primary characters are so well fleshed out that frankly I couldn’t help but love the book. This book made me think about life in a different way and taught me some things alone the way, what more could I really ask for in a book?
I would totally recommend to people who love to read about travel, life and just sheer brilliance of well written characters. I am really hoping to read more from this author.