In an improbable turn of events, I got an email earlier this month from an author volunteering his book for Hate Book Club. I dutifully explained the point of Hate Book Club and how it would take a dangerous amount of optimism or a fair level of masochism to volunteer your own work for it. But the author was undaunted! So that’s how I came to read this book:
The Eyes of the Arab Boy by Rod Lamirand
I guess I should preface with the disclaimer that Rod Lamirand sent me a copy of his book for free, but the opinions below are my own. Obviously. As always, I’m going to start by saying three nice things about the book.
1) I knew almost nothing about Oman before reading this besides where it is and the capital. Now I know a little bit more (assuming Rod Lamirand did his research, I guess), so that’s cool.
2) There was more than one baby turtle!! My favorite character was the baby turtle.
3) I’m strangely comforted by the fact that Americans aren’t the only ones who travel abroad as ignorant, arrogant asshats.
Yes, friends. I too always assumed that Americans had this shit on lock: exoticizing other cultures and then being angry and disappointed at their realities, arrogantly expecting people in other countries to cater to your whims and needs without bothering to learn their customs or language, or just blithely assuming you have diplomatic immunity because HELLO I AM WHITE. But not so! Apparently our Canadian friends stand with us in stupidity, at least according to this book.
Also, before we get into a deeper discussion about why this book sucks, we just have to get this out of the way. The main character’s name is Stash. STASH. I mainly finished the book in the hopes of getting an explanation for this but, spoilers, there isn’t one. Is it short for something? Stashopher? Mustache? Does he HAVE a mustache? Why isn’t it spelled Stache? Did he have some kind of epic stash of something at one point that warranted a nickname? WHY DOES EVERYONE CALL HIM “Mr. Stash” (despite having a last name) LIKE THIS IS A NORMAL THING? Rod Lamirand, I vow to buy the sequel to this book with my own money if you promise to explain this mystery in it.
So Stash and his wife Anna are in a deeply troubling relationship built on manipulation. Anna works hard to become a teacher because Stash tells her she’d be good at it despite having no obvious desire to do so. Stash and Anna MOVE TO OMAN because Stash “wants an adventure”. Anna convinces Stash to have a kid because she’s worried about her biological clock (lol) and Stash’s lackluster response is:
Just the kind of spontaneous, undependable person you want to have a kid with, right? Later on they have similar arguments about having a second kid, including ultimatums, secret vasectomies, and Anna insisting that the second kid Stash doesn’t want is “exactly what [he] needs.” While Anna whines about how she wants more kids, Stash whines about how he wants more exciting sex. He explains that for men sex “is a daily want, a never ending powerful need” and that if HE were the wife in the relationship he would “make it my goal to weave my magic in a million ways for you, every single day of your life… until you died from pleasure.” So, yeah, this book has the sexual politics of a Victorian novel where men are filled with base urges for “sex all the time and if at all possible with variety” whereas “even the liberal, modern, educated,[sic] women, are probably sexually conservative”. LOL OKAY STASH although I question your data. Maybe he’s just pissed that no one really wants to sleep with some skeevy dude named “Stash.” Even in college.
Anyway, in an attempt to liven up this joyless hostage situation of a marriage, Stash and Anna try out sex on the roof of their building, sex with another ex-pat couple, and role play. And, what the hell, taking naked pictures. IN OMAN. Why the fuck not. Oh right, because they are seen and arrested. As you would expect when you live in a country under Sharia law. I don’t know dick about Sharia law, but I DIDN’T VOLUNTARY CHOOSE TO LIVE UNDER IT like these idiots. Plus, they don’t speak any Arabic, just assuming that everyone in Oman will be able to speak English with them. Luckily one of the police officers interrogating them points out how incredibly arrogant this assumption is:
At various points in this ridiculous process they 1) wish they had registered with their embassy (?? You didn’t??) 2) wish they had the phone number for their embassy (??????? Did you prepare for this trip AT ALL?), and 3) expect the legal system to work the same way it does at home (“Where’s my lawyer?” “Where’s my phone call?” YOU’RE IN OMAN YOU TWITS). Their weird regressive sexual politics aside, it’s impossible to feel any empathy for these two because they are so incredibly dumb. Eventually they are saved by a random Italian diplomat they met who is the only competent character and helps them because of friendship or whatever. Also, the police didn’t really care about their random crimes against Omani law–they were really after their neighbor who turned out to be a pedophile, a plot twist that seemed kind of thrown together. Maybe someone can shed some light on this dude, because even before the DRAMATIC REVEAL I never understood his character at all:
So… he’s gay? Or he’s not gay? Are we talking General Patton? Was HE gay? This simile honestly means nothing to me, and there are no further context clues besides the big Pedophile Reveal. Is this implying that gay men are pedophiles? WAS General Patton gay? I feel like I am not old enough to understand this book, both in references and weird attitudes about sex and other cultures. Plus, the writing is sometimes ELJames levels of bad:
Wow, wow, wow!
My note on the above just says “What?” I have no idea what this is referring to at all.
I tried to give this one the benefit of the doubt, thinking it might be like Canadian Dad Slang, but Google couldn’t help me out either:
Unless you can only find it on Canadian Google. Canoogle.
Since every Hate Book Club review must include a chart, here’s one I made about the types of notes I wrote to myself while reading this ebook.
Most of the “lol” was laughing AT the characters, not with them. And, as always, here is a gif to sum up my review:
Previously: Eat, Pray, Love
Next: Depends on if anyone else really wants to VOLUNTEER