So, George Bush picked up The Outsider for his holiday reading. Big deal! The entire world is going gaga over the American President picking up the Bible of absurdist fare. John Mullan is so taken with Bush's choice that he's decided to dedicate an eulogy to the President:
And the president's supporters on the Christian Right will surely be worried to hear of him dabbling in one of the most anti-religious of novels. After he is sentenced, Meursault is visited in his cell by a priest whose consolation he furiously rejects. Camus makes sure we admire his narrator's indignation at the illusions the chaplain peddles.
All this is disturbing proof that George W is not the weird being that we had all liked to suppose. A few months ago, Camus' novel came top in a poll conducted for G2 among male Guardian-reading types, who were asked what book had most influenced them. The Outsider beat off JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five to claim the distinction of the book most likely to have changed their lives. Oh dear. Perhaps, chaps, George is one of us.
Well, well, Bush is, after all, one of us.