“The British author, Craig Stone, is as interesting a person as the characters he creates. Miserable at his day job, he decided to take a leap of faith. His path to success was all or nothing, victory or death.
He quit his job and dropped out of the white-collar world with all its trappings and amenities. Unemployed, he had to give up his residence. With a sleeping bag and a sackful of clothes he headed to Northwest London’s Gladstone Park, settling in among the homeless, transients, dog walkers and the occasional irritated park worker. His only solace, an A4 notepad and a pen.
Like the author, the main character Colossus Sosloss also quits his job, becomes homeless and sleeps in the park. Colossus observes the other homeless who reside at the park. Many of them with treatable or controllable mental illness but, in the post-Margaret Thatcher England, such individuals are human refuse. Dumped into society to fend for themselves and spiral downward amongst the neatly-trimmed hedges and glistening, manicured lawn of the sprawling public space.
The character’s travails are reminiscent of a Lewis Carroll-type adventure with subtle Dickensian undertones. Which include a lost parrot and an unfortunate man named Squirrel. We follow Colossus on his journey to the edge of sanity, with humorous interjections and clever idioms. A hero’s quest, that inevitably ends with subterfuge, realization and reflection.
Today, no longer homeless, Craig Stone is probably one of the most promising young writers to grace the indie and self-publishing world. Though at 31, Stone is a surprisingly mature author who seems to transcend the generations. His literary work is suitable for the very young and for those who have lived an interesting life
The Squirrel That Dreamt Of Madness is an imaginative tale that can only come from a brilliant, albeit delightfully demented, mind. Stone mixes humour with the cold, stark reality of life. Everything and everyone, is a metaphor for something either sinister or truthful. Gifted students may soon find this book on their required reading list for their advanced High School contemporary literature class.
The author does not have a long laundry list of writers who inspired him, though he definitely channels some Steinbeckian qualities (the novel was written during the height of the Great Recession) and J.D. Salinger’s, The Catcher in the Rye.
Like Hemingway who retreated to the wild and lawless pre-Castro Cuba to pen his magnum opus The Old Man and the Sea, Stone chose to immerse himself in a colder and wetter climate to experience what his character had to endure. The old adage, you write what you know, still rings resonantly true. Stone certainly writes what he knows, and writes it exceptionally well.”
I originally reviewed this book in April 2012.
It is funny. It is clever. It is witty. It is deep. It is sad sometimes. It is a lot of things that make you fall head first into this story, making you read and read and read, not knowing when you are going to put the book down. The story of Colossus Sosloss, who got tired of living an empty life and tried to escape from the solitude he was feeling, despite being surrounded by lots of people. Colossus leaves everything and becomes part of the anonymous crowd of homeless people who live in parks. This is a clever story of how he tried to survive in Gladstone Park, even when facing some unexpected and nasty events.
In a very witty, clever, and funny tone, Craig Stone makes the reader think about the world and everyday life of those homeless people who live around us, and who we seem to ignore or who we simply don’t even see. At the same time, through Colossus’s story we are told an important lesson about appearances and the opinion that people can have of others depending on their situation or looks.
Very rich in metaphors, it may seem to be a difficult book to read. On the contrary, the metaphors are easily recognizable, and we all can understand what it is being said there. This story contains other stories within, that help to understand the overall context of the book.
If you enjoy satirical, funny, very clever stories, this is the book for you. If I could give it ten tea cups, I would. One of the best books I have read this year so far.
For all that, I give this book… 5 tea cups!