Q&A with Greek writer Giannis Goranitis about his book "24", literature, Rock counterculture and music

"I’m afraid it’s not that big and crucial. Most artists choose the path of political apathy. Only a few seem determined to publish their views on the modern world, and influence people, but I truly don’t know if they have any real and meaningful impact."

Giannis Goranitis: Suburban Railway Blues

Giannis Goranitis was born in Athens Greece, were he lives and works as a journalist. His first book, a short story collection entitled “24” is out since December 2017 by Patakis Publishers. 

"Rock culture may seem outdated for most youngsters, but I believe that it’s still relevant and solid. Personally, it has changed the way I view and interact with people."

Interview by Michael Limnios

What experiences in your life have triggered your ideas most frequently? Where does your creative drive come from? 

Every single experience could (and probably should) trigger an idea that’s going to be part of a short story or a novel. But the experience itself is not enough. What is actually needed is hard work and persistence – and I believe that it answers your second question as well: The creative drive is the sole start of a project. In order to get it done, you need to work.

What have you learned about yourself from your writing of your book?

I’ve realized that I could be more determined than I thought. I also found out that one could be touched by the acts and words of imaginary creatures that exist only in his mind.

How do you describe "24" mission and soundtrack?

“24” is a short story collection. It consists of 24 interconnected –but, in the same time, autonomous– stories. Each one is inspired by a different station of the Athens suburban railway system. Also, every story is connected to a different song –some of them are mentioned in the book, but most were “involved” in the writing process.

What has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from your experience (this hot summer day) on the train?

A single summer day is depicted at the book, but my experience was much longer. A kid trying to “escape” from his mom’s watch in a packed wagon made me laugh at first. But it also made me weep as soon as I “discovered” his imaginary story.

"I’ve realized that I could be more determined than I thought. I also found out that one could be touched by the acts and words of imaginary creatures that exist only in his mind."

What has been the relationship between music and literature in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?

Music and literature, as most art forms, are connected and interactive. They both affect my mood and constantly change the way I see the world.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of people and world? If you could change one thing, what would that be?

I’m really hopeful and optimistic for the future. I believe that technology and modern science would help humanity to achieve its goals. But, I think that we’ll need a few decades to get there. In the meantime, we’ll have to face challenges, as the ones we’re already facing but are unable to confront.

How has the Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Rock culture may seem outdated for most youngsters, but I believe that it’s still relevant and solid. Personally, it has changed the way I view and interact with people.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? If Frank Zappa was speaking seriously to us, what do you think he would tell us?

I cannot say I miss something, in a nostalgic tone, but I sure miss the days of the artistic struggle and the desperate hope to change the world through (or by means of) art. The cynicism of most of current artists may seem more applicable to our days, but still…

Rephrasing an older Frank Zappa quote, I’d say that he would address us with something like: Art is making something out of nothing and selling it (to people not interested in buying it).

What is the impact of literature and music to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?  

I’m afraid it’s not that big and crucial. Most artists choose the path of political apathy. Only a few seem determined to publish their views on the modern world, and influence people, but I truly don’t know if they have any real and meaningful impact.

"Music and literature, as most art forms, are connected and interactive. They both affect my mood and constantly change the way I see the world."

Where would you really want to go with a time machine? What memorabilia (books, records) would you put in?

If I could get into a time machine, I would definitely travel to the distant future. I’d love to take a glimpse of life after 500 or 1.000 years. I wouldn’t carry memorabilia, as I would like to see if anything current would still stand after so many years. In order to show them what humanity achieved a few centuries ago, I’d pick Kafka’s “Trial”, the ‘Selected Poems’ by Jorge Luis Borges, The Beatles’ “White Album”, and Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue”.

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