Confessions of a Knight Errant Cover

Confessions of a Knight Errant

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by Gretchen McCullough
Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Cune Press
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Page Count: 240 pages
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Confessions of a Knight Errant cover.

Confessions of a Knight Errant is a comedic, picaresque novel in the tradition of Don Quixote with a flamboyant cast of characters.

Dr. Gary Watson is the picaro, a radical environmentalist and wannabe novelist who has been accused of masterminding a computer hack that wiped out the files of a major publishing company. His Sancho Panza is Kharalombos, a fat, gluttonous Greek dancing teacher, who is wanted by the secret police for cavorting with the daughter of the Big Man of Egypt.

Self-preservation necessitates a hurried journey to the refuge of a girls’ camp in rural Texas. Then a body turns up nearby that is connected to Middle East antiquities, and they are on the run once more.

Drifters, Thieves, and Ali Baba's Treasure - Confessions of a Knight Errant - Buy Now


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Guest Post

Egyptian Movie Stars: Our Friends for Dinner
Guest Post by Gretchen McCullough
Originally featured on World Literature Today

This plague feels absurd, a little like a B-grade movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And if it weren’t all true, it might be funny. We switch off CNN headlines of infections and death counts throughout the world, especially when we are eating—calamity unfathomable. On France 24: just the forlorn image of a man in Italy standing next to his mother’s coffin. I worry about my elderly parents who are far away at their home in central Texas situated on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River. But they reassure me and send photographs of fields of bluebonnets in bloom. When I called them, my father said he was awake at night, brooding, remembering his mother’s stories of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918—how coffins lined the streets of her small town in North Carolina. Here in Cairo, almost a hundred years later, I cast my eye over the newspaper headlines in Arabic: a vaccine won’t be available for a year. Yesterday, a nurse at Maspero, the state television building, tested positive. This headline hits close to home since Mohamed Metwalli, my husband, works as a translator there. I fold the newspaper over and put it on the coffee table—how much more do we need to know?

Few creatures are out at 7 a.m. except sentries at embassies, pet owners, stray cats and dogs.

My occasional Friday stroll around the Zamalek island has become a daily necessity now, a chance for fresh air and a brief escape from confinement. The new blessing is the rare quiet in this rambunctious city. Why hadn’t I noticed the rich variety of trees before? Sago palms are companions to jasmine trees, yellow acacia, and hundred-year-old ficus trees. Few creatures are out at 7 a.m. except sentries at embassies, pet owners, stray cats and dogs. The occasional weasel skitters under a car. When I glance down at my new smartphone about to cross a deserted 26th of July Street this early morning, a briefing pops up on the screen: grocery workers in US die. How to balance the need to be informed with quietude? Despite my friends’ enthusiasm for my new phone, I pine for my Nokia with the cracked screen and regret the upgrade. I invent destinations around the island for myself with a new mission: to find the homes of dead Egyptian movie stars from the black-and-white movies.

Coincidentally, when I cross 26th of July I spot the historical plaque marking the home of the comedian Ismail Yassine, who reminds me of Abbott and Costello with his vaudevillian routines and goofy antics. Born in 1912, he would have been seven years old when Saad Zaghloul led the Egyptian revolution of 1919 against the British. I peer through the small gate, admiring the forest-green rococo door to the building. Originally from Suez out of a poor family, he made dozens of slapstick comedies and provided Egyptians with at least twenty-five or thirty years of entertainment. My favorite is his hilarious romantic comedy Shahr Asal Basal (1960; Honeymoon, onion-moon), about a couple whose idyllic honeymoon turns into a fiasco when the bride’s mother, played by Mary Munib, appears at the hotel in Alexandria. She is so protective of her daughter, starring Kariman, and interferes so much that they never do the deed! A sly dig at the role of mothers-in-law in Egyptian society.

Another day, meandering back home, I discovered Soad Hosny’s plaque on Yehia Ibrahim, a side street off of 26th of July. She died in 2001 in mysterious circumstances in London. Many Egyptians believe she was pushed off the balcony—it was rumored that she was writing a tell-all autobiography that would be scandalous for the mighty.

Unable to see our real friends, these Egyptian movie stars from the past are charming dinner companions—and they do cheer us up.

I am delighted again by Eshaet Hob (1960; A rumor of love) with Soad Hosny, Omar Sharif, Abdel Moneim Ibrahim, and Youssef Wahbi. Unable to see our real friends, these Egyptian movie stars from the past are charming dinner companions—and they do cheer us up. While we are savoring my husband’s pan-fried octopus tentacles one night for dinner, on our television screen, Youssef Wahbi, who plays an old womanizer, coaches his nephew, Hussein (Omar Sharif), how to make his daughter, Samiha (Soad Hosny), fall in love with him. The director, Fateen Abdel Wahab, had to work hard to make the handsome, twenty-eight-year-old Omar Sharif look unattractive. Sharif plays a clumsy accountant, with his penetrating brown eyes hidden behind severe, clunky glasses. The father wants to make his daughter jealous by insinuating that Hussein is having an affair with the “real” movie star, Hind Rostom, a voluptuous blonde often referred to as “The Marilyn Monroe of the East” but perhaps more talented.

Omar Sharif died in 2015. I saw him around five years before at his son’s Italian restaurant, Trattoria, in the neighborhood. Even as an elderly gentleman he was still dapper. A young Egyptian couple in their twenties rushed over to him, thrilled by their luck. A table or two over, I was struck by his patience and sweetness. He talked with them for a long time—and then took a picture with them.

drawn rattle snake

the Author

Author Gretchen McCullough Photo

Gretchen McCullough was raised in Harlingen Texas. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, she taught in Egypt, Turkey, and Japan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and was awarded a teaching Fulbright to Syria from 1997-1999.
Her stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Barcelona Review, Archipelago, National Public Radio, Story South, Guernica, The Common, The Millions, and the LA Review of Books. Translations in English and Arabic have been published in: Nizwa, Banipal, Brooklyn Rail in Translation, World Literature Today, and Washington Square Review with Mohamed Metwalli. Her bilingual book of short stories in English and Arabic, Three Stories From Cairo, translated with Mohamed Metwalli, was published in July 2011 by AFAQ Publishing House, Cairo. A collection of short stories about expatriate life in Cairo, Shahrazad’s Tooth, was also published by AFAQ in 2013.
Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo.
In Confessions of a Knight Errant, readers get a taste of the Hill Country. One winner will, too, with a one-pound bag of pecans from Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company!
(US only; ends midnight, CST 4/28/23)

Confessions of a Knight Errant tour giveaway graphic. Prizes to be awarded precede this image in the post text.


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