The Stranger (The Outsider)

the strangerI read this originally in French class, sometime during my high school career. (Where I was a music nerd, and a hard-core nerd, long before that was remotely cool.)

Most of this famous existential work was read aloud in class, by a collection of students with a wide variety of accents and grasp of the French language. If I remember correctly, Lorne’s delivery was amusing, but that might have been because he was pretending he was Soupy the Clown. By far the most hilarious moment was when our teacher asked my friend Garth a question, and he replied: “Je ne sais pas comprendre.” (I don’t know HOW to understand.) The teacher doubled over with laughter.

Despite the fact that I was doing poorly in this class, I was secretly in love — or at least a more advanced lust — with my French teacher. (A fact I only now reveal for comic effect, but back then I would have been mortified if the world had known. Surely this is some kind of rite of passage, falling in “lovust” with your language instructor?)

The novel is about the farcical nature of French colonial justice, the absurdity of free will and the benefits of not washing.

pirate therapy

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Speaking of Goodreads, you can win a copy of my new book, Pirate Therapy & Other Cures, in a giveaway that ends May 15.

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Alltop thinks washing is absurd too.

Classics of Travel Literature — The Odyssey & The Hobbit

The Odyssey

The OdysseyThe Odyssey is a story about a homicidal maniac (Odysseus) who refuses to ask for directions. This tragic flaw, shared by many men, leads his crew to disaster. Some are eaten by monsters, some are eaten by their crew-mates, and some finally get fed up with this cruise from hell (literally at one point), and take a flight back to Greece on their own.

Finally, Odysseus returns home, and is shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that after a 20-year absence, his wife is entertaining the possibility of remarrying.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

The HobbitThis is another tale of vacations gone awry. Bilbo Baggins is a wealthy hobbit who hires Gandalf Travel to take him on a grand tour of Middle Earth.

But Gandalf plays a little bait-and-switch on Bilbo, and our hero soon discovers that it will not be Gandalf leading the tour, but a cadre of fat, venal and mentally challenged Dwarves. Even worse, he is expected to do most of the work himself. Though he finds the experience trying, Bilbo discovers hidden reserves of talent, bravery and pluck.

Everything goes well until Bilbo inadvertently starts a race war.

pirate therapy

#

Speaking of Goodreads, you can win a copy of my new book, Pirate Therapy & Other Cures, in a giveaway that ends May 15.

Add me as a friend while you’re there!

Alltop thinks washing is pointless too. Originally published October, 2010.