Theatre of the Absurd

“This was quite the week”, I said to Camp who was sitting in my seat as arranged a week ago.. “We had the theater of the grotesque in Singapore.”

“Yep, a photo op for a mass murderer who killed his uncle and poisoned his half brother in Malaysia. Just a week ago he was the dictator of the most brutal regime on the planet with over 200’000 prisoners in the gulag.?”

“And then Trump made him into a pop-star. For what? Did anything of substance result from this depressing charade,” I asked.

“Not really, no time plan for denuclearisation, no concrete agreements, just a publicity coup for Kim the pariah and an embarrassment for world politics.”

“All hype and bluster, theater of the absurd,” I said. “He insults Trudeau, the host of the G-7 club in Quebec, and then calls Kim his new best friend.”

“That’s what you get when you let the lunatics run the asylum.”

“On another sad note, Anthony Bourdain stepped off this world last week. He was one of my heroes ever since ‘Kitchen Confidential’, the book that started the whole food and chef fascination. “

“Yes, quite sad really,” Camp said, “he is the one who said: our bodies are not temples but amusement parks, enjoy the ride.”

We quietly toasted Anthony and paused for just a few beats taking in the summery vista out front our perch above the pebble beach of Gibsons Harbour.

“How is business these days,” I asked Camp, owner of Coast Books, one of the few independent bookstores left and an anachronism of sorts.

“The tourists are here already, every ferry is overloaded and the store is always full of browsers,” Camp said, “but hey, I’m not complaining about a fate of my own making. There are still people who buy books.”

“I personally enjoy nothing more then reading a book when I find the time,” I said, “mind you, more often then not I’m staring into my small or big screen instead, consuming the latest news clips. It’s a bit like an addiction. You can never get enough and it’s always the same. You think the sun would still rise and the tides would still go in and out if I would go cold turkey and not watch the news for a month?”

“The world would never be the same,” Camp laughed, “but you might feel left out. I for one will be glued to the screen for the next month, waiting to catch that magic move or brilliant pass to stop time. It’s the world cup in Russia, that’s what I’m talking about, sure to distract, entertain and provide drama, tears and glory.”

“I might stop by and join you for a few games. Maybe I’ll even buy a book from you. How many books do you think are out there?” I asked. “Must be a challenge to keep up with the latest.”

“I can tell you. According to Google, some 130 million books have been published and every year, in the US alone, there are between 600’000 and a million new books. About half of them are self-published and sell less then 250 copies each. I stock about 1’000 titles and some of those haven’t moved in years. It’s a fickle business and I’m constantly second guessing myself. My perennial bestsellers are children’s books, mostly purchased by grandmothers. My personal favourite this season: Ferdinand, now a major motion picture cartoon. You should watch it.”

“A cartoon?” I said, somewhat baffled.

“I watched it with my niece,” Vicky said, having overheard Camp’s recommendation while refreshing our beverage. “It’s a great story and a fun film about a gentle soul inside the wrong body. A flower loving bull who doesn’t want to fight.”

“Wow, sounds like they should screen that at the White House,” I said.

“Right after they show that bizarre Destiny Pictures propaganda video for the hundredth time, the one Trump presented to Kim. ‘Out of the dark can come the light and the light of hope can burn bright. Leni Riefenstahl would be jealous. Guess who the two main protagonists are.”

“Dear Leader and Manchild? Are people really that gullible,” I asked.

“People love nothing more then fantasy, especially when the reality is a disaster. Give me Laurel and Hardy any time,” Camp said, finished his beer and got up. “I’m taking Muriel to the new pizza place,” he announced.

“Pizza, cartoons, soccer? What happened to the Campbell I knew, the recluse and naysayer of yesterday, now suddenly the man of the world,” I wisecracked.

“You need to get out more often. See you next week,” he said with a wink and a smile.












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