- Brian Braden
Who are you? No. Who are you really? Do you know? Do any of us really know? These were the questions sixteen year old Chris was asking after his mother dies and he discovers the man he believed to be his father is not.
Haunted by a mysterious apparition that forces him to question his pampered existence, he embarks upon a quest to find himself. But, seeking sanctuary in the home of Magda, a middle aged waitress with a penchant for sex, he discovers she lives with her father, a cigarette smoking, beer swilling immigrant. Chris hates his shabby new surroundings at the end of the street and the shabby old man at the end of his life who spends his days listening to old blues records and making Chris fetch him fresh cans of beer.
If you’re a fan of The Hero’s Quest, Joseph Campbell or The Hero with a Thousand Faces, this book will appeal to you. Written in a lyrical style that mimics the old man’s blues records, if Joseph Campbell and Muddy Waters wrote a novel The Vagabond King is what you’d get.
Over the course of the story the old man tells tales of Communist Hungary, torture, escape and the mysterious medallion he wears, until Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping records, history repeats itself and the roles we play have been played many times before.
This book blends ancient mythology and modern cosmology in a lyrically told tale that mimics the old man’s blues records and will leave you thinking long after the last page is turned.
"...if the world and literature survive into the next age, The Vagabond King will probably be a classic." (TM Romero, Goodreads.com)
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What inspired you to write The Vagabond King?
Man's search for meaning has been a central theme of my life. So, Chris’s search for meaning mirrors my own metaphysical meditations. Portraying an adolescent boy’s struggle with his adolescent spirituality was just a great vehicle for me to figure things out in my own struggle to develop a spirituality without religion.
Why did you portray a type of older woman younger man relationship in the novel?
The Vagabond King is about the dualistic nature of reality, so I made Magda an older woman. So we've got the old man, Mick, guiding the adolescent boy into manhood. Then you’ve got Magda, the older woman, and the object of an adolescent boy's desire. So that’s where the elements of the older woman younger man relationship came in.
Why did you use a musical style of writing in The Vagabond King?
The central theme of this novel is man's search for meaning. At the beginning of the novel Chris has lost faith in everything he has believed because it has proven itself to be a lie or is superficial and unsatisfying. So he's left to develop his own adolescent spirituality and, in a materialistic world, it must, consequently, be a spirituality without religion. So the book portrays man's search for meaning in a world that is essentially unspiritual.
Now, portraying spirituality without religion is a challenge, so I needed to give the book a mystical quality while keeping it firmly rooted in the realty of the everyday world. That's where the lyricism of the prose comes in. Because rituals use music to elevate the ritual from the ordinary world, I used imagery from the myths of ancient Mesopotamia and gave the prose a musical quality to it.
Who is the ideal audience for The Vagabond King?
The obvious answer might be adolescent boys because of the older woman younger man relationship. But, I think anyone who is interested in coming of age novels or man's search for meaning and developing a sense of spirituality without religion in a materialistic world would find it interesting. The book's best reviews actually came from grown men and adolescent girls.