On Callisto

Torsten Krol’s 2007 novel Callisto offers a brilliant, insightful, and hilarious look at modern day American politics, delivered in a highly unlikely package. Krol’s narrator, Odell Deefus, is a naive, eccentric, and just plain dumb Kansas native who finds himself launched into a series of tremendously unfortunate events after his car breaks down en route to an Army recruitment center to join the fight in Iraq. His car troubles stop him in Callisto, where he meets Dean Lowry, a quiet and not-so-friendly local who offers to tow Odell’s car the following morning.

After a few drinks, Dean opens up a bit more to the stranger he so generously offered shelter and a free tow. Odell shares his intention of signing up for the service, which causes Dean to share his own views on the state of US politics, involvement in Iraq, and even religion. Once excessive drink sends them both to bed, paranoia overcomes Odell who begins to suspect Dean of murderous intentions. These suspicions get Odell into the worst kind of trouble in the most accidental of ways – and things only grow progressively more troublesome from there.

Throughout the course of the novel, Odell gets wrapped up in drug trafficking, terrorist threats, televangelists, car bombs, murders, and even the FBI. Krol takes readers on a completely unpredictable and unexpected journey that is comical and satisfying. The author’s commentary on the Bush administration (which was a primary intention in the creation of this novel) is cutting though often intriguingly veiled. Krol’s unique blend of humorous political commentary offered within the confines of a novel narrated by a bumbling non-thinker makes for a most entertaining and one-of-a-kind novel that is more than worthy of all the praise it has come to receive.

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