Title: The Hermit
Author: Ray Holland
Website of Author: http://greatbigdog.com/
Front Cover: Sandra Dittmeier
Genre: Inspirational / humour / mild bizarro
Length: 244 pages
Reviewer: Sassy Brit
The Mayor’s Daughter is caught one too many times entertaining the local men and soon becomes something that is bad for public relations and future elections. Although the Mayor himself is too lazy, or perhaps incapable of dealing with his “little princess”, his PR company formulate a devious, evil plot to work on an even bigger scandal to overshadow the havoc she is creating. They even enlist the “Tall and Manly” actor guy to sweep her off her feet, in the hope that marriage will force her away from her decadent behaviour, which has even begun to frighten away some customers of the Tavern. Yes, the Mayor’s daughter is officially out of control. Sounds like a normal day in the life of a political leader, right?
In the second part, like soup, the plot heats up and thickens when we meet the Hermit himself. A man who has clearly been on his own for too long, but is very good at what he does best; hiding from the rest of the world. Through meditation and contemplation, and passing his hermit exams with flying colours, he aims to reach The High Plane of Astral Everythingness, consisting of 142 steps to enlightment. Quite a few more steps than say, the zen approach, don’t you think? All the hermit wants is to be left alone, which is what he is trained for, but strange things happen to a hermit in his meditative world, which is different to ours. For example a stream of chicken soup flows under The Bridge of Constant Focus. Anything is possible when you are under the influence of carrot wine or you are a hermit in a meditative trance. During one of his episodes he connects to the Mayor’s daughter and unwillingly gets involved in a way that could threaten his whole hermit existence. Never before has an anti-social loner been found so curiously attractive!
The Hermit is an enjoyable, idiosyncratic story, which bears a surreal fairytale quality involving the political scandals and shady dealings of the Mayor and his daughter and a discombobulated Hermit. The characters don’t have names, just titles; “the mayor’s daughter”, “the best friend”, and “tall and manly” to name but a few, which adds to the whacky flavour of the bubbling plot. As you can tell this story has a bizarre edge to it, but the absurdity works. Is there a moral meaning to this vibrant, yet silly tale? How about — the wise know their limitations; the foolish do not. However, it could also be read as a cautionary tale where the grass is actually greener on the other side of the fence and that one should embrace life and all that is thrown at them because if this story is anything to go by, change is good! Although, between you and me, I found the Hermit a little disconcerting when he sold out, and shuddered at the thought of his morals fading into obscurity as he left his anarchist side high up in the mountains to pursue new interests. As luck would have it the story is told in the light-hearted manner of a narrator with a zest for life, a twinkle in his eye, and a dash of satirical humour.
In the magical, slapstick world of The Hermit this vibrant cast throws caution to the wind and slaps the fickle face of conformity. It’s a comical, entertaining read, which fits snugly inside the genre of the Bizzaro kind – without moving over to the darkside for grotesque horror, mindless violence or lewd sex thrills– but there is a mention of “a case of plastic puddles of vomit” and the Mayor’s daughter does indulge in lots of “bouncy-bouncy”.
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