THE OUTSIDERS by Jack Lynn Schauer

THE OUTSIDERS

KIRKUS REVIEW

Great 20th-century thinkers apply wisdom to current events in this fictional account.

What would writer Albert Camus and existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre make of this modern world? That’s the idea behind this slight fiction that finds the philosophers debating politics and war in the present day. The book opens in Paris 2005 and reveals that Camus did not die in a car crash in 1960, and Sartre did not succumb to his addiction to amphetamines in 1980. Now old men, the two philosophers push past their political differences. Along with absurdist writer Pascal Pia (1903–1979), the characters deftly argue about contemporary dilemmas facing humanity, including the war in Iraq and global terrorism. Camus struggles with memories of his World War II experiences and still indulges his love for the sea, which he shares with the protagonist in his novel The Stranger. But when faced with a manifestly postmodern Europe, the writer suffers a “crisis of confidence.” To cope, he embraces his long-dormant religious feelings and converts to Catholicism. Sartre remains a committed atheist, but years of self-abuse takes their toll. A psychotic episode sends him reeling into the Paris streets, and Camus and Pia drunkenly search for their friend. Finally, a religious epiphany brings Sartre closer to Camus’ newly found faith, and Camus struggles with his own devotion to God and man in the wake of a terrorist bombing in the city. While the framing of these well-known philosophical views in a somewhat superficial religious context smacks of an agenda on Schauer’s part, the characterizations are reasonably sound, and the book may appeal to students of existentialist literature.

A brief but inspired reimagining of the latter years of the existentialists.

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-59800-836-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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