|"Read this book and ask yourself at what point the wings of your vision of human
intelligence become too tattered to any longer sustain lift, and that kindly, but
far-too-lofty evaluation begins to nosedive." Darryl Mockridge
|When I read the book “When I Was a Low Life”, by Henry Edward Fool, a poignant
tale of going to college in Richmond VA in the late 60’s-early 70’s, adventures
across the country, and generally just “growing up” in that era, I thoroughly
enjoyed the book, partly because of Fool's wit and prose style and partly because:
I was there, I had some of the same awkward experiences, and knew some of the
people mentioned in the book. I thought perhaps I was biased towards the book.
Being fortunate enough to have read an advance copy of Mr. Fool’s latest effort,
“Trial By Guest”, I must first qualify my review. I have neither worked in or stayed
at (to my knowledge) a small, privately owned French hotel in my life. NEVER. No
bias here... And I enjoyed this book EVEN MORE than “Low Life”. OMG I’m LMAO!
This accurate and scathing tale of the trials and tribulations of serving the hotel-
going public, accumulated and journaled over 30 years by this way-too-observant,
way-too-honest desk clerk/night guy will amuse, annoy, and horrify you. I wanted
to punch a couple of the guests myself. Steve Wall
|"Cleverly written, amusing, humorous expose of the pondering of a long suffering,
but highly reflective employee. Certainly a hip pocket read for any one that has
had to endure a job that seemed perilously close to a lived out nightmare of
absurdity and futility." Ron Jackson
|FILED UNDER: RECOMMENDED READING
WORD NINJA WROTE THIS ARTICLE.
FRIDAY, 02 DECEMBER 2011 00:00
Another intriguing piece by Estuary Publications, this time by one Henry Edward Fool. Trial by Guest is a
narrative wandering through the tribulations of working for a family-owned, privately-run French hotel and
the various hurdles involved in dealing with guests. Despite there being no plot, each chapter comes alive
through Fool's descriptions and illustrative narration.
Reading a proof copy of this piece, so a few chapters may have shuffled around by publication time, but
the overall arc of Trial by Guest presumably remains intact. The main character, potentially Mr. Fool
himself (never did quite figure out if it was intended to be semi-autobiographical or whatnot), works as the
night clerk and day clerk of a privately-owned French hotel and details dozens of interactions with various
guests, co-workers, strangers, and other eccentrically unique people. It is left up to the reader to determine
whether the main character, commonly referred to as 'Edward', is guilty of being a bad employee or not.
And we are reminded of this ongoing question through many of these chapters.
Each chapter stands alone as its own little story, a particular guest or scenario Edward has faced in his
many years of employment at this hotel. From drunken blind people, to deafening hearing aid-wearing
people, to the dreaded creatures that are travel writers, to desk clerk employees; Edward endures them all.
My verdict: Edward is a socially awkward, occasionally grumpy, perpetually maligned, overworked and
underappreciated hotel employee who is decidedly not French. Should he be hung for such horrific actions
and character traits? Nah, rope is expensive after all. And where are you going to find a proper beam to
hang it from? I prefer to think that a suitable sentence would be for Edward to continue service as a night
desk clerk until old age or until an irate guest finally does him in. After all, who else would be capable of
filling such a position with his unique set of skills?
This is not a book meant to be read from beginning to end, cover to cover, in one sitting. Or even multiple
sittings (Or at least I hope not. It took me a good five sittings to work my way through from cover to cover).
This style of book feels more appropriate to read chapters at random, when one needs a good
Schadenfreude-instigated laugh. With no Point A to Point B plot, it doesn't hurt to skip, jump, hop, or flip
from one chapter to another. Some chapters merge with each other with a similar topic or continuation of
an overall theme, but for the most part each chapter stands alone as its own short story within the overall
If you've read Earwig by Darryl Mockridge, then you'd appreciate Fool's Trial by Guest. It has a similar vein
of humor, only stronger. Instead of having witty sarcasm and twisted humor sprinkled within, this book is
saturated with it.