File under “books everyone else read in high school”, so I will not worry about the spoilers.
Act One: We are introduced to our anti-hero. He lives in Algiers, lives in an apartment, vaguely socializes with some of his neighbors. His mother dies, he attends her funeral and hooks up with a girl shortly thereafter.
Act Two: Our anti-hero is sucked into the drama of a neighbor’s life and ends up shooting a man to death. I say anti-hero because he is decidedly unlikeable. The critics describe him as “amoral”, but I believe he has a moral code of some sort. For example, it doesn’t appears as thought he ever tells a lie – even when it will benefit him. And by “benefit” I mean save his ass.
Act Three: The murder trial. There is no question that our anti-hero shot a man to death. If I understood the legal stuff, it seems to be a question of where on the spectrum of Self-Defense-Murder Two-Murder One the act falls.
The novel is also referred to as “absurdist” or “existentialist” in studying the meaning of life and/or failing to find it. I find that particularly interesting because our anti-hero is so entirely lacking in self-reflection. As close as he comes is right at the end when he determines that he is about to lose his life because he failed to cry at his mother’s funeral.
Because I have so little interest in philosophy (not proud of that) I had two main observations:
- Bret Easton Ellis must have been a big fan, because the main character reminds of a lot of American Psycho in his emotional detachment.
- If this novel shows anything close to the reality of the French justice system, (after reading The Monster of Florence) I want no part of Europe. Incidentally, I doubt that it does.
I’m not sorry that I read this. In fact, when I am old and was to revisit philosophy, I might return to it. But I can’t say that I enjoyed it.