By Albert Camus
I have been trying to put this review off for a while for a couple of reasons. First, it is extremely difficult and scary to review a book that has such a strong following. And second, I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. It’s one of the strangest books I’ve ever read (no pun intended).
This is a strange book choice for me because I’ve always said that I do not like books that are too philosophical (which is why I’m not a big fan of Paulo Coelho or Milan Kundera). However, I have a thing for pretty book covers and this one caught my eye. The design along with the title intrigued me. Plus, I’ve heard about Albert Camus tons of times.
This was quite a fast read. Few pages, but almost each one puts a big question mark in your head. My first problem with the book was the main character. I understand that he represents the big philosophical idea of Camus. His remarkable apathy irritated me to the highest degree. At the same time, the close-mindedness of the people around him (the government people, mostly) made me want to punch the wall or something equally as hard. Why is it not okay to not care about religion or love when you’re facing an impending death?
Somewhere, in a little corner inside my head, a part of me wants to believe that Meursault is innocent. He may have killed a man, but he surely does not have the dangerous aura or the tendency for violence as the typical murderer. Then again, who am I to make a prototype of a “murderer”? Why can’t Meursault be not full of remorse for his mother’s death? Why can’t he live his life the way he wants to - simple, unexciting, emotionless, and well, pretty useless - and why can’t a murder as simple as the one he committed be taken for what it is? Sometimes, we like to pretend things are more complex than they really are simply because such simplicity triggers disbelief. “How could he not have truly wanted to kill that man? He had a fugging gun!”
Truth is that it’s hard to believe in such a man as Meursault. With a mindset like his, he’s truly a unique character that’s quite as fascinating as he is irritating. Nevertheless, this book made me put it down every couple of pages just to think about what I had just read. Camus’ writing is disguised in such simple writing that it’s easy to take it for granted at first. Just like Meursault - so simple at the facade, yet the complexity of his being, I can’t even begin to understand.
Do I recommend this book? Yes. Will I read it again? For sure, but not anytime soon.