Finally–A Cheating Coach Gets What He Deserves

Jim Tressel: Kinda like Harold Camping on October 22. Don't you think?

I have leveled more than my fair share of criticism toward Mark Richt over the last few years, but I must say this in his defense:  Thank God he’s not Jim Tressel.

Jim Tressel has resigned under pressure as head coach at Ohio State.

For those of you who don’t keep tabs on the goings-on in the world of college football, here’s the brief rundown on this story:  Five Ohio State players sold memorabilia to the owner of a tattoo parlor.  (By the way, this tattoo parlor owner is under investigation for charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.)  They were suspended for five games, but reinstated in time for last year’s Sugar Bowl.  They will serve their suspensions during the first five games of 2011.

Some Michigan fans decided to have a little fun when the Tressel thing first broke.

Ohio State appealed this suspension.  As they were conducting the investigation for this appeal, it came out that Jim Tressel knew all about the whole thing.  He had received an email about the players’ little tattoo parlor jaunt well before the start of the 2010 season, and had even responded to it, saying “I’ll look into this.”  As we would later find out, he never did.

When Tressel’s role in this thing was exposed, Ohio State gave him the equivalent of a slap on the wrist:  a two-game suspension for the first two games of 2011.  Tressel voluntarily upped his suspension to five games. Continue reading “Finally–A Cheating Coach Gets What He Deserves”

The Monday Melange 05.30.11: Dan Adler, Harold Camping, Fred Phelps

–Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, is not very big into politics.  After all, he is a bear, and he is a sports fan.  And he is the Executive Director of Sports Information, which means he doesn’t really get paid to opine about politics around here.  Of course, he is a bear.  Bears can be very dangerous at times; don’t let that cuddly loveable teddy bear exterior fool you!!!  So if Aloysius wants to opine about politics I generally don’t try to stop him.  Thankfully he doesn’t get the urge very often.  But every now and then he perks up when something mildly entertaining comes across the wire, like this cheesy takeoff on the movie “Rudy” by congressional candidate Dan Adler out in California:

–Speaking of crazy people out in California:  You thought we were done with Harold Camping?  Not so fast, my friends!!!!!  Camping is still out there, doing his thing.  He has only slightly changed his tune; he now says that the May 21 thing was a “silent judgment” and a purely spiritual event.  But never fear, the end of the world is still on for October 21.

October 21.  My birthday.  That’s going to be one HELL of a birthday!!!!!

Dude, if I were you right now I would shut the hell up and get the hell out of the limelight and find the biggest rock I can possibly crawl under and hide out there for as long as I can get away with.  Because if October 22 rolls around and we’re all still here, I don’t think it’s going to go very well for you.  I’m just sayin.

–If and when the Rapture does happen, don’t worry.  Your pooch or kitty or other animal will be well provided for, thanks to the good people over at Eternal Earth-Bound Pets.  For a reasonable fee, they guarantee that should the Rapture occur at any time within the next ten years your pets will be rescued and cared for.  Of course all of the people who work for them are atheists–it wouldn’t work out very well for them if any of their rescuers got raptured, now would it?

–What would a tragic tornado strike  be without Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist peeps putting in an appearance and making their opinion known?  “Thank God for 125 Dead in Joplin”, we read on the Westboro Baptist website this week.  They are planning to protest President Obama’s visit to Joplin this Sunday.  (Of course this event will have already happened by the time this post goes live.  So we shall see how it all turned out, shan’t we?)

Quick Hit: The Coming Presidential Election

It isn’t very often that we talk about politics here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion.  Politics can be a very divisive thing; expressing strong opinions of one political persuasion is a sure way to lose friends and readers of the opposite political persuasion.  And we don’t want that here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion.  Besides, this just isn’t a political blog.  One of my friends from college has a very good political blog called “Marque’s Letters“; I strongly recommend it if you are into that sort of thing.  I don’t stop in there very often for the simple reason that I would drive myself completely crazy if I had to worry about all the things that conservative political pundits worry about.

But every now and then politics creeps up on the radar at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion.  And what better time to discuss it than with a presidential election looming in the next year?

Obama is looking extremely beatable these days, though he has enjoyed a slight uptick thanks to Osama.  Yet Republicans have all but conceded the upcoming election to Obama; for some reason all of the candidates who actually have a shot at beating Obama are avoiding this thing like the plague.  Every day it seems like somebody is coming out with an announcement that they will not be running.

Which leaves us with…Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

You remember these guys from the last time around, don’t you?  Mike Huckabee is a crazy old fundy-gelical from over in Arkansas whom my ultra-conservative evangelical friends just can’t seem to stop talking about.

And Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

This can only mean one of two possible things as far as his ability to govern effectively is concerned.  Now a lot of you evangelicals would say that Romney is not a Christian and so God does not listen to him; he does not hear from God and cannot lead out of that.  I hear you.  But you are completely and totally missing the point, and the point is this:  Either (1) he doesn’t REALLY believe all that stuff, in which case he is a hypocrite.  Or (2) he really DOES believe all that stuff, in which case he is completely and totally crazy.  Those are our only two options here.  There may be more but I’m not seeing them so don’t start with me.

And don’t even start with me about Sarah Palin.  I would sooner vote for Michael Palin if he were running on the Silly Party ticket.  Besides, I think he has a much better shot at beating Obama than any of these other guys.

If only the Republicans could get one of these guys to run, they might actually have a chance.

The Monday Melange 05.23.11: Planking, Harold Camping, Bobby Lowder, Arnold Schwartzenegger

Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone's Entitled to Joe's Opinion, tries to get in on the "planking" craze. Unfortunately the lying flat as a board part is kinda hard for a teddy bear.

Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, has been telling me all this past week about this crazy old bear out in California named Bearold Camping who was a big deal back when he was a cub.  Bearold Camping had a radio station and a sizeable audience.  Then he started spouting off about how the world was going to end on June 6.  (Don’t know.  Think it had something to do with 666 or something like that.  Doesn’t really matter now, does it?)  A whole bunch of bears started painting “June 6:  Save The Date” on their cars and the outsides of their dens.  Well, June 6 came and went without incident and all of Bearold Camping’s followers mauled him to death.  Bears don’t take too kindly to that sort of thing, which is why you won’t find a lot of date-setting end times prophet bears.  Because if you pick a date and you get it wrong, they will maul you to death.

–“Planking” is the latest internet craze that is sweeping the globe.  The game originated in 1997 in Australia and gained worldwide attention recently after somebody fell seven stories to their death while attempting to “plank” off their roof.  “Planking” involves lying face down, flat as a board, having your picture taken while you are in that position, and posting it to Facebook or Twitter.  The more public, the better.  The more precarious your position, the better.  Read this CBS News piece on planking, which also includes some photos to give you the idea.

–Harold Camping spent about $1 million on all those billboards advertising the Rapture this weekend.  But that’s okay–his organization was worth $22 million in 2002 and $117 million in 2008.  Apparently it pays to be in the business of setting dates for the Rapture.  Read the CBS News article on Camping’s financial picture.

–Wondering what Harold Camping plans to say to his parishioners, now that the Rapture has come and gone and we’re all still here?  Yeah…I thought so.  This post offers some contingency plans for old Harold.

–The news just came out this past week that 2011 will be the final season of the Bobby Lowder Show down at Auburn.  If you saw my Facebook page, you saw me link the video of Monty Python’s Piranha Brothers sketch and draw the comparison between Lowder and Dinsdale Piranha.  I have no doubt in my mind that this is a valid comparison.  I can easily see Bobby Lowder nailing people’s heads to the floor.

Can’t you see it too?  Former Auburn athletic director Mike Lude was strongly advised to check in with Bobby Lowder every week.  He did not do this, preferring instead to go through then-president William Muse.  This did not please Lowder very much.  I can see Lowder responding like this:

One day I was sitting at my desk, and in come a couple of Bobby Lowder’s boys carrying a tactical nuclear missile.  They said I had bought one of their fruit machines (I had done no such thing) and would I please pay for it.  They wanted $250 million.  A week later they came back and told me the check had bounced, and that I would have to see Bobby.  So they chain me to the back of a tank and take me for a scrape round to Lowder’s place.  There was Bobby Lowder in the conversation pit with [then-Alabama governor] Don Siegelman, whom they called Baby-Crusher, a couple of film producers, and a man they called Kierkegaard who just sat there biting the heads off whippets.  Lowder comes up to me and says “You’ve been a naughty boy, Clement.”  And he saws my leg off, splits my nostrils open, and pulls my liver out.  And I says “My name’s not Clement.”  And then he loses his temper and nails my head to the floor.

Okay, this is obviously a spoof inspired by the Piranha Brothers skit.  But I defy you to tell me that this is very far from reality down at Auburn.

Arnold Schwartzenegger now joins that growing “stupid club” of celebrity men who had gorgeous wives and cheated on them.  That club also includes Tiger Woods and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.

Here is what Mildred Baena, the woman with whom Schwartzenegger cheated on his wife looks like:

Dude, if you’re going to cheat on your wife, at least do it with a woman who looks better than her.  There aren’t a whole lot of women running around out there who look better than Maria Shriver, and this is certainly not one of them.  I have no sympathy for Arnold Schwartzenegger.

The Last Post Ever at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion?!?!?

What you are now reading is the last post ever at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion.

That is, if Harold Camping is right.

Who is Harold Camping?  Glad you asked.

Harold Camping is this crazy old coot with WAY too much time on his hands.  He is out in California, where there is no shortage of loonies and crazies and wackos and other such things.  Face it:  There is nothing so completely and totally absurd, backward, bizarre, outlandish, or just plain whacked that someone out in California has not done it at some point.  I do not understand California, nor do I want to understand it, nor do I even want to try.  If I ever get to where I understand California, then I’ll have become one of them and I’ll be doing the same things they do.  I don’t want that.  And you don’t either.  Trust me.

Somehow or other (more on this later), Harold Camping got it into his head that the Rapture will take place today, May 21, 2011, at 6 PM local time, with the end of the world to follow on October 21.

Now you may have never heard of Harold Camping before in your life–unless you were paying attention back in the early 1990s.  Camping made a lot of hey back then when he predicted that the end of the world would be on September 6, 1994. Of course, September 6, 1994, came and went and we are all still here.  One would THINK that once you pick a date for the Rapture and it comes and goes and everybody is still here, that would kinda shut you up…just a little bit.  Right?

But for the people who make their living by doing this sort of thing, it’s not a problem when the proposed date of the Rapture comes and goes and we are all still here.  Just ask the the Seventh-Day Adventists.  They could tell you an awful lot about this.

And it was not a problem for Harold Camping.  He just claimed that he had made a slight miscalculation because he hadn’t fully studied all the relevant passages of Scripture (WHOOPS!!!!!), covered his little faux pas by adding a 6100-day “period of ingathering”, and voila, he was back in business.  And it all worked out to…May 21, 2011.

In Camping’s own words:  “At the time there was a lot of the Bible I had not really researched very carefully.  But now we’ve had the chance to do just an enormous amount of additional study, and God has given us outstanding proofs that it really is going to happen.”

In Camping’s little alternate universe, numbers mean all sorts of crazy things and everything in Scripture stands for something else that only he knows or understands.  According to, here is how he came up with May 21 as the big day:

He believes Christ was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D., exactly 722,500 days before May 21, 2011. That number, 722,500, is the square of 5 x 10 x 17. In Camping’s numerological system, 5 represents atonement, 10 means completeness, and seventeen means heaven. “Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said on his Oakland-based talk show, Family Radio, last year. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved. I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that.”

Here is another way that Camping and his peeps reckon it:  May 21 (today) marks 7,000 years exactly since God closed Noah into the ark prior to the Flood.  At the time, God issued a warning:  Seven days until the final destruction.  In other places in the Bible it says that with God, “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  (2 Peter 3:8)  Ergo:  Seven days—seven thousand years.  Exactly.  Literally.  Right on the button.  Never mind that numbers in Scripture rarely mean exactly what they say they mean.  Never mind that the point of this verse is that God’s way of reckoning time is completely and totally different from our way of reckoning time and we can’t even begin to understand it and shouldn’t even try.

Of course there are a hella lot more numbers that go into this thing.  You think Camping would be running around out there spouting off May 21 if all he had to base it on was this day-thousand years thing?  Especially after he’s already gotten it wrong once?

But get this:  May 21 (that would be today) isn’t REALLY the end of the world.  It is only the Rapture, which is just the warmup act.

Now what is the Rapture?  Glad you asked.

The Rapture is a doctrine that is espoused in many corners of fundamentalist Christianity and many parts of evangelicalism as well.  It started out among the Puritans with Increase and Cotton Mather, and grew as it was preached and taught by Baptists and Plymouth Brethren, particularly John Nelson Darby, during the 19th century.  There are many permutations and variations of the Rapture in evangelical eschatology, but the dominant one nowadays basically says that Christ will come in secret and all Christians will disappear, rising up into the air to meet Him.  After this, a lengthy period of turbulence, distress, and suffering–both man-made and from natural sources–will afflict the wicked who remain on earth.  Finally, Christ will return loudly and publicly and bring an end to the whole shebang.  If you’ve read or heard of the Left Behind books, you are familiar with this.

Back to Camping.

After the Rapture (today), there will be an intense period of distress and suffering–fire, earthquakes, volcanoes, Antichrist, etc.–which will last for exactly 153 days, until October 21.  Then God will step in and bring an end to the whole shebang.

Why 153 days?

In John 21, Peter and the disciples are out fishing after Jesus has been crucified.  They are having a rough go of it, when all of a sudden the resurrected Jesus comes up to them and directs them to a good spot, and they catch a whole mess of fish (153 to be exact–John 21:11).

153 fish—153 days.

Wow, it all just lines right up!!!!!

I’m not making this shit up.  I’m not that creative, and I couldn’t be–even if I wanted to.

As I said earlier, there is nothing so absurd, backward, bizarre, ignorant, outlandish, or just plain whacked that it has not been done by someone in California at some point.  I do not understand California, I do not want to understand it, and I do not even want to try.

And I don’t want to try to understand Harold Camping either.  If I ever get to where I understand him, then I’ll be just as crazy as he is.  And you don’t want that.  Trust me.

Well, I’m off to the pool to catch some rays and wait for the Rapture.  Nothing like laying out by the pool on a beautiful summer day waiting for the end of the world.

Read William Cwirla’s take on Harold Camping here and here.  And while you’re at it, watch this video from Jonathan Fisk in which he gives his take on the whole thing.

Wondering what Camping will say or do if May 21 passes without event?  Yeah…I am too.  Here is a post which gives some ideas as to possible Camping contingency plans.

Good Riddance Bobby Lowder

So I hear it on pretty good authority that Bobby Lowder will not be back for another term as Auburn trustee.

This can only be good news for those of you out there who are Auburn fans.

If this op-ed piece from the Opelika-Auburn News is any indication, there is not a lot of love for Lowder these days down at the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains.  As a matter of fact, its first two words match the heading of this post:  Good riddance.

Even I, a raving Georgia fan, could see that Bobby Lowder was bad for Auburn.  I steadfastly refused to take Auburn seriously as a football program until it chose to dissociate itself from Bobby Lowder.

The author of this op-ed piece is willing to acknowledge that Lowder has done good things for Auburn.  This may be more than he deserves, in light of the bad.

Conventional wisdom holds that Lowder singlehandedly engineered the hiring of Terry Bowden in 1993, as related in this New York Times piece, only to return him slightly used midway through the 1998 season when Auburn’s fortunes went south that year.

Lowder was also in on a botched attempt to lure Bobby Petrino to Auburn near the end of the 2003 season.  Then-Auburn president William Walker and then-athletic director David Housel traveled to Louisville along with two other Auburn trustees for a clandestine interview with then-Louisville coach Bobby Petrino–while coach Tommy Tuberville was still under contract at Auburn.  Lowder provided the transportation for this asinine little junket; it was his plane that ferried the Auburn officials to Louisville.

William Walker lost his job over this mess.   So did David Housel.  Tommy Tuberville came out of all this smelling like a rose.

So did Bobby Lowder.

In 2004, Auburn came dreadfully close to losing its academic accreditation from SACS–because of the way Lowder exercised his influence as a trustee.

The New York Times piece relates how Lowder was in on the firing of then-Auburn president William Muse in 2001, and how his influence led Auburn to completely scuttle its economics program–a program near and dear to the heart of one of his most vocal critics on the board of trustees.

Lowder even stooped so low as to attack the student newspaper at Auburn.  When it ran a piece that was critical of him, he had the editor censured and the entire journalism department subjected to what Opelika-Auburn News columnist Jennifer Foster calls a “retaliatory restructuring”.

Clearly it was best to not cross Bobby Lowder, if you knew what was good for you.

Lowder’s style was to wield influence from behind the scenes.  According to AJC sports columnist Mark Bradley, his MO was “to be seen but never heard”.  According to the New York Times piece, he ran Auburn like it was “his professional football franchise”.

Clearly Auburn will be much better off without Bobby Lowder.  Even I, raving Georgia fan that I am, join them in saying “Good riddance.”

Quick Hit: The NFL Labor Dispute

Normally, my default position in professional sports labor disputes that involve people who make more money in one hour than I will see in my entire life and are whining because they can’t figure out how to equitably divide all that money is “I don’t care.”

But in this case, I have to go with the players.


Think of it like this:  Suppose you were a waiter at Nava or Paul’s or whatever your nightspot of choice happens to be.  Now, suppose that the owner told you he was going to take 10 percent of your tips every night.  “Don’t worry,” he says, “we’re going to invest this money in the restaurant.  We’re going to make big improvements here:  a bubble wall, marble countertops at the bar, etc.  More people are going to want to come here, and that means more money for you out of all this.”

How would you feel about that?  Not very good, I take it.  Well, that is more or less what the owners are trying to do to the players in this labor dispute.  Not cool.

On top of that, the owners are screaming about how they are losing money and they need the additional cash flow.  The players have responded by asking the owners to open their books and let them see where the money is going.  A reasonable request:  if I were being asked to give up part of my salary, I would want to know how the money will be spent.  Yet the owners have refused.

Not cool.

Les Miserables 64: The Secret House

Earlier in the story we saw Marius meet Cosette for the first time, fall in love with her, and get punked by Jean Valjean when he tried to pursue her. In this section we will begin to see what all of that looked like from the other side.

Victor Hugo leads off by introducing us to a house near the end of the Rue Plumet.  This house was built by a judge who had a mistress but wanted to keep her on the DL.  In Hugo’s words:  “…for in those days the great lords displayed their mistresses and the bourgeois concealed theirs…”  Gotta love that irony.

This house was a detached two-story house built on a lot that covered about an acre.  It had a garden that fronted onto the Rue Plumet, but it also had a secret passage that led out the back, passed between the backyards of all the other houses on the block, and wound up at a secret entranceway that opened out onto the Rue de Babylone.  This house does not exist anymore; it was gone by the time Victor Hugo wrote this story.  It may have been a made-up house; who knows?

Our friend the judge had this secret passageway put in so as to conceal his affairs.  If anybody saw him going somewhere and suspected that he might have been going to see a mistress and was inclined to follow him, they would have seen him enter the Rue de Babylone entranceway and thought that was where he lived.  They would have had no idea that he really lived on the Rue Plumet.

After the judge died the house fell into a state of disrepair.  In 1829 Jean Valjean moved in and fixed it up, intending to live there.  This was a secret place; the secret entranceway served him well.

At that time Valjean and Cosette had lived in the convent for five years.  Valjean had reached the conviction that it would not be right for him to stay with Cosette in the convent without first moving out and giving her a chance to experience the outside world before deciding to take her vows.  If she had renounced the outside world without ever having experienced it for herself, that would have been dishonest before God.

When Fauchelevent died, this supplied Valjean with a ready excuse for leaving the convent; he told the sisters that he had come into an unexpected inheritance and would be able to live on the income without working.  He offered to pay them an agreeable price for the trouble they took in educating Cosette.  Once this was settled, he and Cosette left the convent.

They spent most of their time in the Rue Plumet house.  Valjean also rented out two other places:  one on the Rue de l’Ouest, and one on the Rue de l’Homme Armee.  In this way he ensured that he would not get caught short like he had on the night Javert showed up at Gorbeau and he miraculously wound up at the convent; if anything like that ever happened again he would now have another place to go.  Victor Hugo describes the situation thus:  “This man of lofty virtue had three addresses in Paris in order to escape from the police.”

Valjean had the opportunity to serve as a National Guard, and he did not turn it down.  He could have claimed an exemption because of his age, but he did not want to call any attention to himself by asking for it.  The uniform gave him the opportunity to be out in public without arousing any suspicion toward himself.  This detail will come in handy later on.

Victor Hugo notes another detail:  Whenever Valjean went out with Cosette, he dressed in such a way as to look like an old officer.  But when he went out by himself, he dressed like a workman, with a cap to hide his face.  This explains what Marius saw a few chapters earlier when he was out walking and saw an old man in a laborer’s cap who looked like M. Leblanc (whom we know as Valjean but whom Marius only knew as Leblanc).

Les Miserables 63: Eponine

We now ease back in to the action of the story.  We catch up with Marius on the back side of the tumultous events at Gorbeau House.  Immediately afterward, he disappeared and went to move in with his friend Courfeyrac.  Why?  He hated the spectacle of the evil poor that he had seen on full display at Gorbeau that night, and he did not want to be questioned by Javert in relation to the incident.  Recall that his father had given him a debt of honor to repay Thenardier for saving his life by doing him some kindness, and he did not want to repay this debt by sending him to jail.

Marius had lots of questions concerning what he had seen at Gorbeau, but no answers.

For a moment he had again seen close at hand in that obscurity the young girl whom he loved, the old man who seemed her father, these unknown beings who were his only interest and his only hope in all the world; and at the very moment he had thought to hold on to them, a gust had swept all the shadows away.  Not a spark of certainty or truth had escaped even from that most fearful shock.  No conjecture was possible.  He did not even know the name he had thought he knew.  Certainly it was no longer Ursula.  And the Lark was a nickname.  And what should he think about the old man?  Was he really hiding from the police?  The white-haired workingman whom Marius had met near the Invalides suddenly came back to mind.  It now seemed probable that the workingman and M. Leblanc were the same.  He had disguised himself then?  This man had heroic sides and equivocal sides.  Why had he not called for help?  Why had he escaped?  Was he, yes or no, the father of the young girl?  Finally, was he really the man whom Thenardier thought he recognized?  Thenardier could have been mistaken.  So many problems without a solution.

Moreover, Marius was distressed over the fact that he was still in love with Cosette, but with no earthly idea of where he could possibly go to see her again.  This caused him to pretty much shut down and lapse into idleness.

So one day he was walking down the street and saw a beautiful field in an isolated part of town.  He learned from a passerby that this place was called “The Field of the Lark”.  Of course this had nothing to do with “The Lark” whom we know as Cosette (Marius did not yet know her real name), but Marius was anxious to grasp on to something.  So he began to visit this field frequently, thinking that here he would eventually learn “The Lark’s” whereabouts. Continue reading “Les Miserables 63: Eponine”

Book Review: Yann Martel, Beatrice and Virgil

Every once in a while, I come across a book that thoroughly captures my imagination and causes me to wish that I had written it.  Included in this category are Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Life of Pi tells the story of an Indian adolescent boy named Pi Patel, who, along with a full-grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, are the sole survivors of a shipwreck that claimed the lives of his family and all the other animals of their zoo.  They were in the process of relocating from India to Canada; Pi Patel and Richard Parker continue this journey all by themselves in one of the ship’s lifeboats.  This is an incredibly complex story that is equal parts survival story, coming-of-age story, philosophy textbook, and comparative religion treatise.

Finally, ten years later, Yann Martel has followed up that story with another which is just as impressive.  A donkey, a howler monkey, a struggling writer, a taxidermist, and the Holocaust all come together in an amazingly unlikely tale.

A writer who published a hugely successful first novel several years ago struggles to find inspiration for a follow-up work.  He comes up with the idea of a flip-book on the Holocaust:  one side would be a fictional story and the other would be a nonfiction essay; both would end at the middle.  This is his attempt to remedy what he sees as a problem:  not many people are writing about the Holocaust, and the ones who are, are producing nothing but autobiographical narratives of their own personal Holocaust stories.  He has little success pitching this work to prospective publishers.

He then receives an unsolicited manuscript from a taxidermist who has written a play and wants him to look over it.  Reluctantly, he agrees to do so.  This play is all about a donkey named Beatrice and a howler monkey named Virgil, and their unlikely friendship.  It hits upon many of the themes that emerged from the Holocaust, but in a very unorthodox way.  He is intrigued by this play, and he begins to get to know the taxidermist.  And then very weird and disturbing things start to happen.  (I’m not going to tell you what they are.  You’ll have to read the book.)

This work stands as an excellent follow-up to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.  It approaches the Holocaust in a very fresh and unusual way that forces us to reexamine many of the themes coming out of it; you are hardly even aware that you are reading about the Holocaust until you are well into it.  I strongly recommend this book.