Because of the cover design, at the shuff-off I thought My Camino [Biblioasis] might be a yarn somewhere along the lines of The Bicycle Thief or maybe even Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Not for the first time, I was wrong.
Ten or a dozen pages into the story, I realized the prose was churning along in a style I generally don’t like to read. It was prose tumbling headfirst like unrestrained poetry – whatever that might mean.
I like to read straight-forward lines: "The cow jumped over the moon,” not “Hey, the cow, past fiddle, past diddle, tickled the bow-wow’s curly-haired middle, caused the spoon to swoon, to behave like a knave and hie-diddly-leave with a dishy deep-dish.”
B’ys, it took me a spell to scribble that last bit of gobbly-gook, but the point is, I s’pose, there’s an entertaining difference between prosaic lines and frolicsome, frolicking phrasing, if that makes a grain of sense.
So, I partook a sip and a slurp of illuminating, allusionating, hallucinating herbal essence, dove noggin-first into the story and rompety-romped along.
My Camino is the story of a trio of Art World misfits who decide to travel the Camino de Santiago.
No, not bicycling backwards, but, rather, travelling the trail in reverse, from its end to its beginning, from finish to start.
I’ve mentioned the riders, Floss, Budsy and John the Apostle, are misfits, eh b’ys?
John the Apostle’s description of pilgrims reaching the end of their Caminos, who the misfits meet at the start of their Caminos, tickles me a salmon-belly hue: “Most of them looked mighty happy with themselves, like they just won at bingo.”
Winning at bingo. Spiritual bliss.
Merrily, the misfits pedal the Camino until a chain breaks and a tire blows out…
There is no story without conflict, without a villain.
The Bad Guy in this story is MiCS – Man in Cream Suit – a King of Kings in the Art World who has promised Budsy a show in Dublin that will make him a prince in the Art World, but…
…somewhere in the backstory MiCS has done a dastardly deed to Floss whom Budsy loves to pieces.
Like a witch-stirred brew in a smutty-bottomed cauldron, the plot thickens, eh b’ys?
I allude to cauldrons because there are cauldrons in this story, two of them in fact. Watch for them since they have an integral role in Budsy’s ultimate, pinnacle piece of performance art.
Speaking of allusions and literary devices of that ilk …
I acknowledge that I’m not the brightest color on Mr. Crayola’s palette. It’s no surprise that I had to hammer on Mr. Google’s door seeking edification regarding certain elements of the Art World mentioned in this book.
For instance, I’d never heard tell of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an Italian painter who – at least for a time prob’ly – was dabbing on oils at the same time Billy the Bard of Avon was plying his pen, or quill, whatever.
The most interesting thing about Arcimboldo is that he painted portraits composed completely of fruit and vegetables and assorted other produce.
B’ys, you think latter-day vegans have Arcimboldo’s paintings hung in their kitchens?
Of course, Arcimboldo’s style – his medium – has a connection with Patrick Warner’s novel.
Would I wander?
When Budsy paints his masterpiece, so to speak, he creates a wonder that, p’raps unknowingly, p’raps not, builds imitatively on Arcimboldo’s template. He adds meat to the cauldrons (Ha! Those cauldrons again) of Arcimboldo’s vegetable stew – kinda.
As Kurt Vonnegut, my favourite writer, dead or alive, might say, “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
All in all, what do I think of My Camino?
I think it’s a gem-dandy, rollicking, peregrinating tale that allows John the Apostle to say thematically that the Art World is a “river of horseshit pretending to be – I don’t even know what – a cup of crystal-clear mountain truth maybe.”
I’ve always thought so.
Up at the top, I said I generally don’t like reading Warren’s style of prose, that it’s not my mug of herbal tea. However, I girded my loins – whatever that means – turned pages and set forth on my own Camino.
I’m glad I did.
Oh, I’ve failed to mention that John the Apostle is a qualifiable black person; that Floss is a transgender person; that MiCS is a “six-foot fifteen” mofo.
And Budsy? If this book were a superhero story, Budsy would be an Avenger.
Thank you for reading.
Harold Walters lives in Dunville, Newfoundland, doing his damnedest to live Happily Ever After. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.