Sportsbook director Chris Andrews knows a thing or two about books

LAS VEGAS – The loss to Syracuse emptied Pitt quarterback Niko Peramos, who had dreamed of honoring the national championship in his senior season. Instead, the Panthers wanted to play Illinois in the Alamo Bowl.

Niko was invited to the Heisman Trophy festivities in New York, and some thought he would become No. 1 in the NFL Draft with millions waiting for him in professional football.

His persistent whining over that defeat to Orange, however, annoyed his brother Stavros.

“Adelphós mou, listen here. . . do you think maybe you are a little harsh on yourself? Do not merge yourself. “

Step into the despicable Hairdo that wants Niko to fix the Alamo Bowl, and Big George, the Peramos patriarch with underworld affiliation, and the debut novel about Chris Andrews blasts off.

Its title, “Adelphós Mou,” (My Brother), is a nod to his rich Greek heritage.

Andrews, South Point’s 66-year-old sportsbook director, has written two popular non-fiction books about his lively career, setting sports odds and making bets.

The novel, due out next month, is raw and wild and contains metaphor, symbolism and surprise. He began writing it after an enlightening maiden voyage to Crete in 1998.

An Andrews friend reviewed “Adelphós” and told him, “You write with such a feeling.” “That’s what I’m looking for,” he says, “to make you feel something.”

It digs into his roots in Pittsburgh and Greece with visits to Iceland, London and Las Vegas. Andrews has played with its visual possibilities.

Too much depth for a movie, he concludes. Can not be told in two hours. Four or five, maybe six paragraphs. “Maybe a Netflix miniseries.”

BEATS A NERVE

The framed lithograph, five feet wide and three feet high, dominates the living room of his home in Las Vegas and says it all about Andrews.

Anthony Quinn’s arms are broad, Greek fisherman’s hat in left hand, daffodil in right, head crooked. He may be moments away from breaking into a Sirtaki, his fabulous dance that concludes “Greek Zorba.”

“Triumph” is a self-portrait of Quinn, the creative genius and resident of Chihuahua, Mexico, who played Zorba in Michael Cacoyannis’ 1964 production, shot exclusively in Crete.

Nikos Kazantzakis ‘novel “The Greek Zorba”, published in 1946 as “Alexis Zorbas’ Life and Times”, highlights a farmer who shows the excited author Basil how to celebrate life rudely.

He made it clear to Basil, Kazantzakis wrote, “the importance of art, love, beauty, purity, passion.”

Andrews says that any Greek considers the late Quinn – a perfect Big George he daydreams – to be a countryman of honor.

“In ‘Guns of Navarone,’ Quinn also played a Greek,” says Andrews, who has visited his native land four times. These journeys gave “Adelphós” invaluable depth and context.

“[They] helped a lot, with understanding the culture and a lot of little things are in there. I certainly hit a nerve with how they are, especially Manoli, the Greek banker. I think I got him pretty good. “

He managed it all. Anyone who is not thirsty for a raki – the half shots of brandy that Cretans often sip but rarely get full of – when they finish the book has no heartbeat.

The daughter Jacque has been a vital screenwriter / proofreader. Andrews requested an uncompromising assessment from a writer-friend who suggested making it slimmer and worse.

Andrews trimmed his 160,000 words to 120,000 using more cruel language. Other specialists examined it. A fellow lawyer said to Andrews: ” Yes, that’s how case law would work. ”

He emailed a courtesy script to me last fall. The unshakable dialogue drips from authenticity. Known these people all my life, Andrews says, in Pittsburgh’s multicultural nooks and crannies.

“I think it’s real and reflects the tone of the characters. On an emotional level, my heart and soul are in this book. I can still read it and get tears in my eyes in certain parts ”

NOBODY IS PERFECT

Andrews and I love a lot of rough black and white movies from the 1950s, give or take a decade that show on TCM. I wanted to write to him when Zorba had just started.

“Already on,” he would write back.

If his last days are near, his wife Pam knows to have a TV set for TCM by his bed.

He first saw the “Zorba” movie when he was 17 and read the book for the first time as a 30-year-old or 31-year-old. Near Heraklion in Crete, the largest of about 300 Greek islands, the international airport is named after Kazantzakis, who died in 1957 at 74.

Among Andrews’ four packaged bookshelves, the Kazantzakis titles dominate the special shelf, including “Zorba,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel,” “Captain Michalis” and “Saint Francis.”

The one valued by the Greeks, he says, is “Freedom and Death”, about the Cretan struggle for independence from the Turks 100 years ago.

Odysseus, who hatched the Trojan horse idea, is another hero.

“Defective, really defective,” Andrews said. “The perfect Greek. A warrior. A genius [bleeping] con man. Not a guy you would ever trust. These are our people. In Zorba, Basil finally says, ‘I’m tired of saying, is this a good guy or a bad guy?’

“Well, everyone has both in them. It’s Zorba. And no one in my book comes out of it seen as perfect. None.”

Andrews has long felt like a Renaissance man, eager to cook and travel. He’s not just a guy, he says, “making numbers and taking bets.” He has at least one non-fiction project more and another piece of fiction on his agenda.

His first sting in a novel?

Triumph.

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