The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (REVIEW)
A Critic’s Meta-Review: 4/5
Here we go again — another story taken directly from the pages of my quotidian existence. And while I must admit, it can be a tad frustrating to see these fragments from my life frivolously flipped through by old Jewish ladies waiting for their ciabatta buns to be toasted at the street corner delicatessen, I cannot fault the crafters of these tales for being…well, crafty. Such is the nature of being a writer. Besides, I know how it is. Novel ideas are hard to come by — as they say, no idea is original. There is nothing new under the sun. All that jazz. Really gives me the blues.
You know what else gives me the blues? My bad posture. Like right now, for instance: I am sitting at a table in a Georgetown cafe, hunched over, toiling away at my keyboard like some kind of dweeby Herbie Hancock. My neck is completely arched downward, and my back is folded as if there is some lettuce and taco meat in between it — completely slouched. Slumped.
Well, I can’t say I’ve ever been to Notre Dame; I probably would not have gotten into that school had I applied, anyhow. I have been to France, though, which is where this story actually takes place. Didn’t much care for it, but I was a much younger man at the time.
I am also quite a fan of the artist Quasimoto (rapping alter ego of the legendary hip hop producer Madlib), whose surreal imagery and free association based lyricism harken back to the deeply explorative jazz of the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as the work of Sun Ra (he of Saturn).
Perhaps most striking, though, is the resemblance between my love life and that of our titular hunched protagonist. For most of my life, I have considered myself hideously ugly and overweight. I am now no longer overweight (thanks, in a large part, to the wonders of swimming), but I am still quite self-conscious about my appearance. As a result, my beneficence is often unmet by gratitude — rather, people will kind of just get up and walk away, looking at me like my face is composed entirely of boils. I’m sure the hunchback doesn’t help things, either. So when I find myself an Esmerelda, it will probably take some getting used to before she can finally look past my appearance and excavate to that heart of gold inside.
Something cheesy like that. Never been the best at endings — sorry, pal.