Monday, March 18, 2013

5/10: The Stranger

The Stranger, by Albert Camus
3/5 stars
This is my 5th book in Rex & Jake's 50-Book Reading Challenge,
which Rex leads 10-5. Full list can be found here.

How can anyone love or hate this book? It's like loving or hating shoelaces or that character actor who always plays fathers or politicians. It doesn't make sense. What is there to love? Is it the lack of motivation for anything but playful conversational narrative? What is there to hate? Is it the lack of motivation for anything but playful conversational narrative?

I get it (sort of). This book inspired a Cure song ("Killing An Arab"), and everyone loves The Cure to some degree, but, let's be honest here, that's not enough. A French guy in his twenties bangs his girlfriend and doesn't care, writes a letter to an insane chick for his friend and doesn't care, and puts his mother in a home and doesn't care. He's not a bad guy. He's just a guy. He just exists.

WELL, GOOD FOR HIM. BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH FOR SOME OF US, CAMUS, YOU BEGRUDGINGLY QUIET FRENCH EGOTIST.

Some of us like to read about people who do things for reasons (as Vonnegut once paraphrasingly said, "Every character in your story should want something, even if it's a glass of water"). Sure, this was the start of a movement that was more than despondency but not quite nilhilsm, and right on for that, but I need more depth to the past, present, and future of a man being a man. Still, it was well-written as a first-person narrative, so I enjoyed it, but I couldn't point out anything to a hot babe and say, "Yeah, this is what really got me."

Now how am I supposed to discuss the book with babes, Camus?

"Oh, did you enjoy the font?"

"Did you like how the main character was male?"

"What was your favorite long paragraph about him just walking about?"

Fuck you, Camus. You've doomed me and legions of other dudes trying to nail abstract European artist-type babes who just smoke cigarettes and have more desire for good Chinese takeout than commitment.

YOU. DICK.

p.s. I have to admit, it was interesting to be entertained by a book about nothing (think Seinfeld or Bukowski fiction without any sense of humor, just straight up meandering). Also, there actually being consequences to societal indifference is a pretty wild deal when you consider it. I mean, a lack of compassion without malice actually being extraordinarily frowned upon is something to behold. But, still, if some glossy dead-in-the-eyes smokin' hot babe was into this, how am I to connect with her, huh, Camus? By being just as nonchalant as she is in the hypothetical skimpy sundress she's wearing but not giving a flying fuck about? How do American twenty-something layabouts connect with ridiculously attractive poetesses if flirting is too much interest and eye contact might not be enough? TELL ME, YOU GODDAMN FRENCHIE LUNATIC. Sorry, sorry. That was out of line. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I BETTER, OR ELSE. Sorry, sorry. Totally did it again. Ah well. C'est la vie.

HOLY SHIT, THIS ENTIRE BOOK IS "C'EST LA VIE."

Nailed it.

1 comment:

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