The first question right out of the box amongst a group of confident, well-hung, independent thinkers like the Nutmeg Illuminado is “Is this truly the greatest book of all-time?” Eff no, but it is an incredible discussion book. Meursault…you gotta love him, or not. It doesn’t matter. It’s starting to annoy me. It’s getting on my nerves. I was tired. I was a little bored. I didn’t feel like it. None of it really mattered. It didn’t make any difference to me. I gave up the idea out of laziness. I felt kind of annoyed…yet this Mousier takes some conclusive action when the sun hits him like a slap in the face.
As low key as the extremes were, they were fantastic. Meursault’s indifference, the little woman at Celeste’s exactness, Marie’s nonsensicality, Salamo’s meanness (both in terms of nastiness and dependency), Meursault lawyer’s hopeless assurance and the prosecutor’s fixation on the absence of remorse, they were all fun to discuss. How did Meursault even survive into young adulthood? He was so sensitive to the beauty of the sky and to upticks in temperature, yet he is completely oblivious to the trouble you can get in by emptying a revolver into another person. Was he on the autism spectrum? Did Maman keep him out of trouble all these years before she went to the old folks home? Who knows?
Today it wouldn’t only be in front of the old people that he would get the ridiculous feeling that he was being judged. He backs up a guy who plans on, then goes Ray Rice on his girlfriends. He stands by while a guy beats an animal. He only cares about his girlfriend’s body (free pass.) He swings at a priest. He kills an indigenous person. The P.C. Police would be pulling some serious OT pay tuning him up time and again. Amazing.
Going against the recent trend, we wouldn’t cut a word out of The Stranger. It was an absorbing read from start to finish. No nonsense. No tangents. Also, the single narrator worked in this one. Camus did a great job of framing up what the other characters thought of Meursault. Theon Greyjoy needn’t be consulted. Fun book. It’s short. Go read it.