The Washington Post
Callistoby Torsten Krol, Curt Skinner
Odell Deefus, who's not the sharpest tool in the shed, has one goal: to "try my hardest to be a good soldier against the mad dog Islamites." But while driving to an army enlistment office in Callisto, Kansas, his '78 Chevy breaks down on the side of a country road, and it's only the beginning of his troubles. When he accepts a local's offer of shelter until
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Odell Deefus, who's not the sharpest tool in the shed, has one goal: to "try my hardest to be a good soldier against the mad dog Islamites." But while driving to an army enlistment office in Callisto, Kansas, his '78 Chevy breaks down on the side of a country road, and it's only the beginning of his troubles. When he accepts a local's offer of shelter until the car is repaired, things go from bad to worse—worse as in murder, drug dealers, tenacious televangelists . . . and finding himself a prime target of the FBI, which thinks he's a member of a terrorist sleeper cell. And none of it bodes well for his unrequited crush on Condoleezza Rice. But fear, rash judgments, and extreme reactions are simply the norm in a post-9/11 world. Odell will just have to deal with it.
The Washington Post
Krol's bizarre novel mires a "big dumb hick" in a small town, where he is targeted for aiding and abetting terrorists. Gentle giant Odell Deefus is driving to an army recruitment center when his car breaks down along a country road. But he gets much more than he bargained for with his rescuer, Dean Mowry. Turns out that Dean has been studying Islam, had more than a little to do with his aunt's recent disappearance and is somehow involved with a shady character who goes by "Donnie Darko." Soon enough, Odell accidentally kills Dean and becomes a surveillance magnet after he reports the discovery of a body (not Dean's) in the house. Meanwhile, Odell's story is so preposterous that it has the FBI thinking he is a member of a terrorist cell who can lead them to Dean. Though Odell is initially difficult to connect with, his naïveté becomes a sharpened satirical tool as he confronts the flaws in the institutions he treasures. The plot has its patently absurd moments, but readers of a certain demographic (hint: they're not driving to the recruiter's office) will enjoy the romp. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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My name is Odell Deefus. I am a white person, not black like you might think from hearing the name and not seeing me. If you did see me, you wouldn't remember me for my face, which isn't the kind to stick in anyone's mind, but you might remember me for being tall. I am six-three, which makes women attracted to me, then they find out I don't talk the kind of talk they like to hear, so there goes the romance before it even started. You have to be able to talk to get anywhere. Me, I have to think awhile before I talk, but in the meantime the conversation has moved on, as they say, so forget that. I have had this difficulty all my life, with bad consequences.
I will be twenty-two years old on November 21, 2007. I will not be here then because I am riding this bus to somewhere else away from here. So far I have not said a single word to any of the other passengers. They are all asleep right now as we go speeding through the night. They most likely think I'm a tall dumb hick but they would be wrong about that. I know this because I have read The Yearling sixteen times now, and that is a Pulitzer Prize book which you can't be dumb and be able to read it. I have tried three other books to read but they did not satisfy like The Yearling. If you have not read the story, it's about a boy that adopts a fawn after its mother gets shot in the woods, and he raises it to be his pet like a dog, only it all goes bad when the fawn gets to be a year old and is a big nuisance around the place, eating the corn crop and so forth, so in the end it has to be shot, which always wets my eyelashes it's so sad. Which is more proof I am notdumb, because a dumb person would not feel all that emotion.
I am writing this on the bus in a school exercise book with lined paper in it and the Little Mermaid on the cover. I got a bunch of these because I have got a long story to tell. There is the Lion King and the Incredibles, the whole family, and there is Nemo and Friends plus Shrek and his buddy the donkey that talks, also everyone from Toy Story. I would've got plain covers but the store only had the cartoon kind. There is a little light bulb over my seat to do the writing by. I have got the urge to write it all down, the things that happened to me, while everyone else is asleep, write it all down before something else happens to me. I will figure out later what to do with the story, maybe send it to the New York Times, which is the way true things get told no matter if someone wants the story not to get told. They will not stop me or the NY Times either.
A little while back I'm driving across Kansas in a '78 Chevy Monte Carlo with an engine that sounded like it's driving piles into a riverbed. I was on my way to sign up for the Army now that they want people so bad they don't care all that much if you don't have that high school graduation certificate, which I don't, but not because of stupidity. I was not in the best frame of mind that last year of school, resulting in a bad consequence of not graduating, which was something I didn't care about at the time. But later on I did when the best job I could get was working in a grain elevator. I almost got killed in that job, low paid and dangerous with all that wheat thundering into silos two hundred foot tall. The Army wanted enlistees bad since the war in Iraq made guys quit signing up for enlistment. They even paid a bonus now, I heard, so that was the plan, get enlisted and collect that bonus and try my hardest to be a good soldier against the mad dog Islamites over there exploding everything they could get their hands on including their own people. I am not a bloodthirsty person, but that kind of craziness has got to stop right now. I was not a big success in the world yet, but maybe I would be if I could get some combat medals to show.
There was an enlistment office in Callisto, over there in Callisto County, so that was the direction I went, holding to a steady seventy miles per hour which the Chevy's engine operated best at. I had less than forty miles to go when it started sounding real bad, like it's about to throw a rod or something, so I had to slow down or risk the whole thing going up in smoke. You can't drive slow on the interstate highway, so I got off and went real slow and careful along the back roads, not sure exactly where I was but heading in the right direction for enlistment. Then the engine went all ragged and quit on me, so I had to pull over and shut it down. I sat there awhile watching dust blow past, then I got out and raised the hood. Everything under there was all plugged in, nothing I could see disconnected or out of place, not that I'm a mechanical expert. So the problem was somewhere inside the block, most likely an old-age problem with the odometer reading ninety-eight thousand miles, its second go-round after clocking up that first hundred thou. The engine was ticking like a time bomb, blasting heat and oil stench up at me, so I backed away, thinking maybe if I let it cool down it'll be okay for later on. It was around midafternoon by then and I'd been driving most of the day, so I was ready for a break in any case.Callisto
A Novel. Copyright (c) by Torsten Krol . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Great escapism with quirky characters and a twisty, turning plot. Fiction may be funnier, but this is a good ride inside a simple mind on an unusual trip.
Twenty-one year old Odell Deefus is enlisting in the army. However, the thirty years old car he drives to take him to the recruiting center from his home in Wyoming breaks down on a remote back road somewhere near Callisto, Kansas. The big dumb hick feels fortunate his heap expired by a home. He knocks and enters when no one responds. A few moments later Dean Lowry ask him what he is doing here. Dean does not get much friendlier implying Odell, with his black man's name, is a fool to want to fight the Jihadists in Iraq. However, Dean is not a Good Samaritan. He has studied Islam with a jihadist's fundamentalist attitude, been involved with his Aunt Bree's disappearance and is connected to a nasty sort named "Donnie Darko." When Odell accidentally kills Dean with a bat and finds Bree's corpse in the freezer, he calls the police. The FBI conducts a massive search while also blowing away his claim that Dean with someone named Darko was plotting homeland terrorism; instead they assume he is the key member of a home grown terrorist cell and take him to the tropics for interrogation. This is an engaging wild look at the Americanization of terrorism through the eyes of a naive "Yearling". Odell, with his innocence and misunderstanding of subtly even those hammered into his face. He keeps the tale going as he is engulfed by cynics starting with Dean, Lowry's sister and the Feds; even his worship from afar of Condoleezza Rice becomes tainted. Although the story line is action-packed and at times overwhelming, readers who appreciate a well written satirical thriller will appreciate Torsten Krol's indictment of the unnecessary loss of innocence as a result not of 9/11 and the subsequent waste of global good will, but both caused by the American reaction to 9/11. Harriet Klausner