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.
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.
This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Award, Women’s Studies FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)
I don’t normally read non-fiction unless it’s a craft book on writing or a cookbook and I hardly ever read memoirs, but there’s something about this book that called to me. The catchy title alone had me anticipating a good read and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it.
The first third was quite harrowing, with Marti’s tales of abuse, drug addiction, sexual assault, hospitalization, brainwashing, and the most heart-breaking of all, her separation from her daughter. But the telling was quite fascinating in that through everything she had suffered, there was always her determination to do everything she could to get out of the bad situation. To rise and recover. To hope for a better tomorrow.
Quotes like this had me tearing up:
“… there’s more than one way to fight. You fight by living, and working, and showing your kid how much you care, in any way possible. And you wait, and watch, and when your time comes, you’re ready.”
Marti’s storytelling is absolutely fantastic. The scenes leap out of the pages, they come alive so vividly. I especially enjoyed her adventures all over Texas, laughed at some of the incredibly weird situations she got involved in and the colorful characters she met along the way.
She dealt with every discriminatory, sexist thing thrown at her with humor, positivity, and self-belief, proving the title of the book perfectly fitting.
I bookmarked several pages of this book, particularly the last few chapters where Marti was receiving advice from successful humorists and the final one where she imparted some of her own. Although not a comedian, I can definitely apply some of the wisdom she shared in my writing, in my living.
I love this advice best of all:
“Be yourself. You are enough, right now, as you are, and if you continue the brave work, you will continue to become more, and greater, exponentially. Trust in that, build your tenacity, and continue on your path, no matter the challenges.”
To end, I say to readers: buy this book. Read it and learn from Marti’s experiences. Be inspired. Be strong. Be Fierce, Funny, and Female. That’s what I hope to become, in my own way.
PRAISE FOR FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE:
“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews
“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews
“Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review
“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review
A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor. Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS: FIRST PRIZE: $100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection SECOND PRIZE: Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card THIRD PRIZE: $25 Starbucks gift card. DECEMBER 12-21, 2018 (U.S. Only)
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