A big thanks to #netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!
Title: A Collar for Cerberus
Author: Matt Stanley
Release: July 26, 2018
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
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.
This was probably the most challenging read I have had this year. I started this book over a month ago and only finished it last week. I struggled to get into the mood, the feel and the trajectory of the story. However, I was determined to get into it and grab hold of it. As I did, I was left very satisfied.
It wasn’t until I past the 40% mark, that I finally started to get the feel for it. This book follows a young man who wants to live his dreams of meeting his most esteemed literary hero, Irakles Bastounis, but quickly finds out that his hero is not someone that he thought he was going to be.
When they initially meet, Bastounis is callous and rude to the young man, exaggerating his interest and mocking him for appreciating his work. The next day, Bastounis asks him to be his driver and takes him on the most amazing journey of self-discovery that anyone could be so lucky to take.
Stanley does an amazing job at taking things back to the human level and back again to a mythical sphere as our main character and his hero Bastounis discuss esoteric experiences, travel around Greece, and fully learn what it must be like to be faced with the realities of our own creation and untimely demise.
Not only does this book create a satisfying adventure as we meet new characters throughout the adventure, develop hatred for appropriate enemies, and learn more about each of our main characters as they conclude their journey, but we also learn more about ourselves in the process.
As I read the story, I was continuously challenged in my own mind to see things from a new perspective, and this I believe, is what made the story so challenging for me in the beginning and yet so satisfying in the end. I felt like I had traversed the country and ensuing challenges right along with our main characters.
An amazing read and journey for all who might be interested!
About the Author:
The origins of this novel lie in the late 1990s when I lived and travelled in Greece. I kept detailed journals of my experiences at the time, but these books spent many years in storage as my life progressed in different directions and in different countries.
Much later, when I become a writer, I looked again at the journals and thought about creating a novel from the material. However, I was never able to manage the task. Biography has no structure and no story – it’s just a series of events that makes sense only in retrospect and through the distorting lens of memory.
In 2016, in my mid-40s, I was undergoing a sort of mid-life crisis. What had I achieved in life? Where was I going? Where had I been? I had a young friend going through some of the same experiences I’d had, and I returned again to the journals.
The person revealed in those pages of 20 years previously was almost unknown to me. He was a romantic, an adventurer, an idealist. He wrote about simple pleasures like drinking a coffee or watching a sunset. The world was a fascinating and new place to him – a place of wonders and possibilities. What had happened to him?
That’s when I had the idea. I’d write about my experiences in a highly fictional form and as three different people: the self I was in my twenties, the writer I am now, and the person I once thought I might become. Somewhere in that mix, I could explore what experience meant to me and think again about what we live for. I could finally attempt to capture what it had felt like to be fully alive.
All of the places described in the book are places I visited. All of the food is food I have eaten. As for the structure of the novel, it’s a classic storytelling form: a journey of discovery that has been told and enjoyed since Homer wrote ‘The Odyssey’. The journey itself is the destination.