CONFESSIONS OF A
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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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 bi-lingual 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.
Not every book is for every reader and, unfortunately, that is true for this book for me. When I first heard about Confessions of a Knight Errant, I really looked forward to reading a fun, humorous romp, with a few serious touches. Don Quixote is one of my favorite characters in fiction, and maybe the reference to him in the description of this book sent my expectations off in the wrong direction.
There are some similarities between the two stories. A protagonist who sets off on a quest. The odd assortment of people the two protagonists meet in their journeys to unusual places. The sometimes funny situations the characters find themselves in. The loyal sidekick. However, Gary Watson didn’t have the same appeal for me as did Don Quixote, and it wasn’t until Gary got involved with the murder and the stolen artifacts that I started to care enough about him to stay with the book.
As for the other major characters in the story, there were times they were engaging, but other times they were so campy as to be absurd. It was hard to see them as real people that I could like in spite of, or because of, their peculiarities. And perhaps that was another mistake on my part. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to see them as real, and this is another example of me going in the wrong direction with my reading expectations.
The difficulty I experienced with the story is not the fault the writing, and the book has received enough accolades that I believe the disappointment is all on me. The story moves along quickly, the settings are firmly established, and the dialogue is true to each character. Confessions of a Knight Errant has elements of a good old-fashioned tall tale with over the top situations and odd-ball characters that will appeal to many readers. The humor is contagious at times, and I did appreciate learning some things about Egypt that I didn’t know, like what people experienced in Cairo during the Arab Spring.
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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!
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