Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer reading - The Stranger

No, I haven't finished Moby Dick, and like I wrote in an earlier entry, I have a lot of reading that I want to do this summer. If I wait until I'm finally done with that book, then I won't get anything done. So, I read The Stranger, by Albert Camus, which I might get to teach to my seniors next year. Kirsti had a copy, so I didn't have to go out and buy one. She had recommended it to me some time ago, as she had read it and really liked it.

It's a short book, yet it's taken me about a week and a half to get through it. I guess I'm just being a bit lazy, or preoccupied with other things, as there's no reason to not finish it in a day or two. It's really short, and it's pretty straight-forward. While it deals with some pretty weighty issues and a narrator who really makes you think, it's not difficult to discern what's happening as far as the plot is concerned.

I haven't read any sort of analysis of it, so I'm sure that there's some obvious theme or motif that I'm completely missing - especially considering that I was only reading about 10-15 pages a day. Still, I have to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm not quite sure what sorts of things I'd talk about with my students just yet, but I think that I would definitely like to read this one with them.

The main character is somewhat of a frustrating guy, as he seems to be rather indifferent to the world. Kirsti told me that he reminded her of me a little bit, as supposedly I don't get very passionate about some things that might matter to others. I see where she's coming from, but I know that I also get all steamed about stuff that many people don't care about at all.

I don't want to get into a plot summary, just in case you're interested in reading it, but I will definitely say that the ending has a good payoff. At least, it has a satisfying emotional payoff, and the character is definitely a changed person by the end of the story. In fact, the ending makes me want to go back and reread all of the earlier bits.

One thing I also noticed is that the book is a bit funny. Not hysterical, laugh-out-loud funny, but "isn't that absurd?" moments. Anyway, good stuff. Next up, another hundred pages of Moby Dick, or perhaps even The Crucible. That might not start up for a few days though, as I just bought an ass-load of comics.


haikusue said...

you can NOT teach The Stranger without mentioning The Cure's 1979 hit "Killing an Arab" and the huge public outcry over it (by those who didn't get the Camus reference) Just sayin.....

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Hey, good call. That sounds vaguely familiar - hopefully I'll remember to do that.