A young man named Linos is the main character of this novel. A singer and favourite with young people of his day, totally identifies with his father, a singer who was a 70's idol and who died suddenly. Though the father is absent from the scene, he nevertheless charts his son' s course in an authoritarian way. His father, a "rebel" but "with a cause", left the traces of a youth that he wishes to "subjugate". Linos, a "rebel without a cause", since he imitates the steps of someone else, comes to find the strength that youth always conceals.
Abandoning paths leading nowhere and the horrid form that identification takes, he opens up his own paths.
When he realizes that his own steps are leading him to the same end as his father, he manages to escape through a sudden and dangerous action which, in effect, is a descent into the depths of his soul.
He manages to free himself from the paternal and maternal model, or rather, from a triple form of pressure: that of his parents and the artist, his dead father, who is guiding his life.
I found the street and turned. And then I stood like a pillar of salt, you might say. It was so fucking beautiful! Like a theatre set where the actors are just about to appear. A theatre set. I took a walk...I wasn’t running any more. It was like I had entered another world. I went forward. I arrived and paused. “The songs of Marcellus” was written in huge letters. And below the date of the premiere. And alongside, his picture. One of the well known ones. But very big. A huge Marcellus looking at the road. Looking at me.
I stood there without moving. With my windbreaker on my shoulders and my hands in my pockets. And my eyes glued to him. To his eyes. I remember all that like it happened just yesterday.
The building was high and the stone old and the doors and windows... My God it was beautiful. And it suited him. His face was pale, his lips closed, his eyes looking at the road. At me. And the door was open. A church door – at least that’s what I thought... What did I expect to find inside that made me decide to zip in?
There was nobody inside. But my ear picked up some notes. I went and stood next to the wall and stayed to listen. I felt like shouting. Like screaming “Stop that, you guys! Get lost! That’s not Marcellus. Those aren’t his songs”.
But finally I kept quiet. I went outside. The darkness in there choked me. I went outside and breathed again. I crossed the road to the opposite sidewalk and looked at the poster. My father. I started to cry. Under the poster I started crying. As though something had been stolen from me. Something very precious.
The triumph of the individual
Rock refrain reformulates, as did Kondoleon’s previous novel, Mask on the Moon, the question of the individual’s self-knowledge. But in Mask on the Moon, the heroes
achieved self-knowledge through the discovery of the theatrical event, even though the invisible protagonist was dead. Here, in Rock Refrain, self-knowledge is achieved through a slow, torturous and at the same time terribly attractive path of identification, even though here too the invisible nonconformist protagonist (the father) in his turn and for different reasons, was doomed. In both cases there was a death. With one difference: Then there was distance. The living heroes, distanced from the event, become liberated. Now there is identification. The hero (Linos) through the event, painfully burnt, puts his internal strength to work and liberates himself. In both books, the field of action is art. Then it was the positive intermediary. For the heroes it was sometimes a way to re-determine its essence and at others a way to discover love and ultimately the meaning of life. In this case, it is a negative intermediary. For the heroes in Rock refrain, is it sometimes the way of stating their non-conventionality in the society and in life, and at others of discovering aspects of their own life, but not through the eyes of others. In essence, I believe that Rock refrain is a continuation, or rather an “ideological”/ “philosophical” complement to Mask on the Moon, in the sense that, if in the latter the heroes arrived at self-knowledge by working together and helping each other, in the former the heroes act alone, devoting themselves to the tragic spirit. The father, even though he is absent from the action on stage, nevertheless determines his son’s career tyrannically. The father, “a rebel” but “with a cause”, made magnificent, unique moves leaving the indelible traces of a youth that he wanted to suppress. Linos “a rebel without a cause” having followed other paths, found the strength that youth always conceals, abandoning paths that led nowhere and the terrible form of the identification, and charting his own paths. This is the triumph of the individual!
The narrative structure of the novel keeps the reader in suspense. The unabated interest of the plot is fed by constant images, alternately associated with the narration by Linos’s girlfriend Erato and by Linos himself, with taped descriptions. This was a device by the author to distance the reader, but also to avoid emotionally charged situations.
Linos becomes an important role model for contemporary young people. He takes on his shoulders the fate of youth, urging them to follow their own true path, even if this is far from empty revolutions, urging them to walk their own road even if this includes stereotyped forms. Because revolution is not imitating and fighting with someone else’s moves, but charting your own personal road, finding your own tools. That is, enduring life. To be a real rocker. Even if you only like Beethoven, or Tsitsanis... Or folk songs. Because rock means the real, the authentic, the genuine, i.e. what deciphers the moment and inculcates it, and may later give rise to the
confident, generative, and ultimately poetic.
G. Papadatos and Magazine Ithaca No6
Rock writing adventures
Manos Kondoleon is an established author in Greece in the field of children’s literature, with a large number of books and awards to his credit. He has just published a new novel for young adults that gives anther dimension to relations between father and son when the son decides to follow in the footsteps of his father’s artistic career, in this case a pop singer.
The protagonist of this story is Linos, son of a famous composer and singer who was an idol in the 1970s. Although Linos had met his father, who died young of a drug overdose, it was only a few times when Linos was a child. Nevertheless the young man appears to be following the same path. At his side, apart from his mother Margarita and a few close associates, is Erato, a budding journalist who is crazy about him. But none of these people have any influence over him. The young musician has his own independence and unbridled personality. Publicity, his father’s name and fast money play a decisive part in his Bohemian life and appear to be the only things of interest to him. Despite all this, however, he has the resistance and self-knowledge necessary to come to the realisation that he is on the wrong road. So he decides to withdraw from the spotlight and study. Some tapes on which he has recorded a kind of confession and self-psychoanalysis, thoughts and experiences, come to light after a incident when a cruiseship sank in the Aegean. Linos was rescued unharmed from a rocky islet. Life then follows quieter paths for all.
Manos Kondoleon describes both the psychic world of his heroes and their age in a skillful way. Within a few spare but well structured descriptions he manages to convey vivid images, keeping an enviable balance in his discourse. With simple, meaningful sentences, and carefully chosen words that lend the necessary intensity to the reading, he succeeds in setting up a psychological novel. The scenes alternate according to the character he wants to depict, sometimes using flashbacks and at others current events. He masterfully blends the past with the present, reminiscence with realistic dialogue, hard reality with a romantic mood. The lyrics of the songs scattered through the text may appear to be an innovation, but in my view they weaken the flow of the story and function as a deterrent to readers, distracting them from the main text. Even so, the fifteen songs, with lyrics written in conjunction with Anna Kondoleon, are repeated in the last pages of the book, and give it a special note. Showing at the same time that a lyricist can share the same body as an author, as long as he can feel rock music.
The songs written by Linos and his father are at the end of the book. Reading them at any stage of the novel adds further interest and creates alternative ways of perceiving the events.
His father, a “rebel” but “with a cause”, left traces of his youth that he wanted to suppress. Linos is a “rebel without a cause”, as he tries to imitate someone else’s career.
By abandoning paths that lead nowhere, and the terrible form that his identification with his father seemed to be taking on, he found his own way.
When he realised that he was heading toward the same end as his father, he managed to escape through a sudden action which, in effect, was a descent into the depths of his soul. He managed to free himself from the parental model, or rather from a triple form of pressure: that of his parents and the artist, his dead father, who was guiding his life.
The narrative structure of the novel keeps the reader in suspense.
The unflagging interest in the plot is fuelled by constant images, linked by the narration recorded on tape by Erato, Linos’s girlfriend and by Linos himself. This is a device used by the author to keep the reader at a distance and to avoid emotionally charged situations.
Vassilis Hatzivasiliou (In the newspaper Makedonia)