CONFESSIONS OF A KNIGHT ERRANT
by Gretchen McCullough
Publisher: Cune Press
Page Count: 240 pages
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
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Confessions of a Knight Errant is a comedic, picaresque novel in the tradition of Don Quixote with a flamboyant cast of characters.
Dr. Gary Watson is the picaro, a radical environmentalist and wannabe novelist who has been accused of masterminding a computer hack that wiped out the files of a major publishing company. His Sancho Panza is Kharalombos, a fat, gluttonous Greek dancing teacher, who is wanted by the secret police for cavorting with the daughter of the Big Man of Egypt.
Self-preservation necessitates a hurried journey to the refuge of a girls’ camp in rural Texas. Then a body turns up nearby that is connected to Middle East antiquities, and they are on the run once more.
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With its kooky characters, zany situations, offbeat humor, and marvelous sense of place, Confessions of a Knight Errant is an immensely entertaining read. Its episodic format lends itself well to a cinematic adaptation, particularly that of a situational comedy. Hollywood, check this thing out!
Leading the memorable cast of multicultural characters is Dr. Gary Watson/Smith/Cooper, a professor, author, environmentalist, wrongfully accused cybercriminal, and compulsive liar with Daddy issues. His wild misadventures, ridiculous conversations, and off tangent musings elicited many smiles and chuckles from me. So authentic was his male voice that I had to constantly check who the author is. I appreciate the talent it takes to do that effectively.
I also admire Ms. McCullough’s skill in incorporating so many named characters in the story and making each distinct and recognizable. I cannot decide who is the most fascinating character after Gary — the dramatic and charismatic Kharalombos, the multi-talented Gudrun, or the efficient Mary Alice. Why choose? All of the above.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make me like a book, it’s that it must transport me to the setting of the story. Confessions of a Knight Errant does that and more. It flew me to Egypt during the Arab Spring in 2011. Despite the light tone, I experienced the chaos and uncertainty in Cairo through Gary’s observations and Kharalombos’s despair. This book also returned me to the German enclaves of the Texas Hill Country, an area I’m very familiar with having lived in both San Antonio and San Angelo. And the girls’ camp took me back to the time many decades ago when I was a Camp Counselor at a Girl Scouts’ summer camp. I simply love traveling through books.
And that’s why, despite the unconventional style of storytelling, the prolonged suspension of disbelief required of the readers, and the nonsensical dialogues, I’m giving this a high rating and recommending it to everyone who needs a light distraction from everyday troubles.
Thanks to Lone Star Lit for providing me with a copy to review and for the opportunity to join the blog-hop.
Gretchen McCullough was raised in Harlingen Texas. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, she taught in Egypt, Turkey, and Japan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and was awarded a teaching Fulbright to Syria from 1997-1999.
Her stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Barcelona Review, Archipelago, National Public Radio, Story South, Guernica, The Common, The Millions, and the LA Review of Books. Translations in English and Arabic have been published in: Nizwa, Banipal, Brooklyn Rail in Translation, World Literature Today, and Washington Square Review with Mohamed Metwalli. Her bilingual book of short stories in English and Arabic, Three Stories From Cairo, translated with Mohamed Metwalli, was published in July 2011 by AFAQ Publishing House, Cairo. A collection of short stories about expatriate life in Cairo, Shahrazad’s Tooth, was also published by AFAQ in 2013.
Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo.
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In Confessions of a Knight Errant, readers get a taste of the Hill Country. One winner will, too, with a one-pound bag of pecans from Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company!
(US only; ends midnight, CST 4/28/23)
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