Read Evel Knievel Days by Pauls Toutonghi Online

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From the critically-acclaimed author of Red Weather comes a heartwarming, witty story of immigration and belonging, false starts and new beginnings, and finding out what home truly means   Khosi Saqr has always felt a bit out of place in Butte, Montana, hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel.  Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, owner oFrom the critically-acclaimed author of Red Weather comes a heartwarming, witty story of immigration and belonging, false starts and new beginnings, and finding out what home truly means   Khosi Saqr has always felt a bit out of place in Butte, Montana, hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel.  Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, owner of a name that no one can pronounce -- Khosi has never quite managed to fit in. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town (and Khosi's longtime love uses Butte's annual festival, Evel Knievel Days, as a time to announce her impending marriage to someone else), Khosi takes his first daredevil like risk, and travels to Egypt to find his father -- and a connection to his heritage.    What he discovers, in Cairo, is much more startling than he'd imagined it could be. The city is a thrilling mix of contradictions -- and locating his father turns out to be the easy part. Through mistaken identity, delicious food, and near tragedy, Khosi and his parents rediscover what it means to be connected to each other, to a family, and to a culture.   The timely story of a young man searching for his roots, and along the way finding his identity, Evel Knievel Days is Khosi’s charming and funny journey to learn where he came from, and who he is.“A funny, heart-warming, compulsively readable novel about the unbreakable bonds of family — and baklava.”    —Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain...

Title : Evel Knievel Days
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307382153
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Evel Knievel Days Reviews

  • Skip
    2018-09-14 23:24

    4.5 stars. I am not sure I can explain exactly why I liked this book so much. It's about a 20+ year old man, who suffers from OCD, living in Butte, Montana, working at an old mining baron museum. He is the product of a broken marriage, with an Egyptian father, who deserted his family with a crushing gambling debt. Khosi Saqr goes to Cairo to track down his father, and discovers much. It has elements of fantasy (ghosts), culture and cooking, deep familial love, regrets, physical and mental illnesses, and humor. Kudos to Toutonghi for writing such a richly rewarding book. Also, a spectacular cover -- should have been a 2012 award winner. Highly recommended.

  • Robin
    2018-10-10 02:40

    This is one of those books I would have never picked up as I have absolutely no interest in Evel Knievel (when spouse saw the book in my basket said "Are you reading about Evel Knievel??") and the cover doesn't exactly scream "pick me up and read me now!" so I never thought about bringing it home. However, when querying library staff for their favorite books of 2012, this was mentioned and to my delight found it is not only a wonderful book (so far) but it's authored by an Oregon writer! Final words on this book: I found it to be a wonderful read and enjoyed it thoroughly. It's not often I find a book I can recommend to just about anyone but this is one I'll be raving about to many friends and patrons. It has vivid settings (Butte, Montana and Cairo, Egypt), well-drawn and sympathetic characters, and a compelling storyline, with lots of gorgeous writing. This has a lot of heart and I hope this author gets the attention he deserves. While I was reading this, the word "quirky" came to mind and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to readers of Ann Tyler and Jonathan Tropper.

  • Iris
    2018-10-10 19:21

    [I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. This review was originally posted at Iris on Books].Khosi Saqr has lived in Butte, Montana all his life. He is a tour guide at the museum, and he helps his mother with her catering business by tasting her food. As a little bit of an obsessive compulsive, he likes order in his life. Every night before he leaves the museum, he makes sure all the documents and pencils are sorted. When he was a child, he sorted the colouring pencils making sure he did not overuse one colour in favour of another. His life in Butte is comfortable, though you can locate cracks in his comfort. When his long-time friend (and love) tells him on the evening of the annual Evel Knievel Days festival that she is engaged to marry someone else, the safety of his world comes tumbling down..Earlier that day, someone visited him in the museum, a mysterious stranger that seemed excessively interested in Khosi. Khosi was raised by his mother, his father fleeing the country and his family debts - leaving behind his three-year-old son and his wife. Khosi has always been happy with his mother, but now he feels he needs to know more about his father. Receiving the final push when he realises his long-time love may not wait for him, he decides that it is time to be a little adventurous. And so, Khosi travels to Egypt to find his father.If I am completely honest, I was not sure if I should agree to read and review this book when I received the query in my mailbox. I felt the execution of the premise could go both ways - it could be horribly clichéd and painful to read, or it might turn out wonderfully layered and lovely. A boy growing up in a local town, with a festival, with a local museum, missing intimate knowledge of his father's side of the family, travelling to Egypt, which has all too often been portrayed in an orientalist fashion in fiction. I was hesitant. I wish I could say I was not, but I was. How do you decide if a book is for you or not? In this case, I waited a few days, contemplated the book a little. And then I saw a tweet by Bellezza, about how she was loving it. That convinced me that the best thing to see whether I would like it or not was to try reading it. And boy am I glad I did."See: I think that Tolstoy was wrong. Unhappy families are all alike. They're all alike in this moment - in this pause before something happens, in the pause before someone reacts. And that pause: It can last seconds or minutes or days or months or years."Khosi Saqr is one of the main reasons that I enjoyed Evel Knievel Days so much. He is incredibly smart, but has also lived in a safety bubble created by himself his whole life. He never left home for college, he never travelled on his own, he is afraid of losing his friends who are all moving to other places for their jobs. He never mentions the fact that he might be limiting himself in his experiences, he never comes out to say he might be a little unhappy - and I'm not sure if he is, really. He doesn't wallow, he is satisfied, he is humorous, but he is also observant, and he will not hide from the painful. He never outright tells you that he is an obsessive compulsive, but you read about it, in his descriptions, his observations, and his behaviour; Khosi is caught up in a struggle to keep some form of control over his life.. It is the way in which the reader is told these things that made me unable to look away. Instead, I just had to keep on seeing Khosi, and allow him into my heart a little."What's it like to be the child of an immigrant? I know and I don't know, both. I have a family tree somewhere, but I don't know where, and it's probably in Arabic, or possibly French, or possibly both. The past, the history of my family, is a strange and hybrid beast. On the one side: exhaustively documented. I live and work in its midst. But on the other side: nothing. No body, no clothes, no cane, no toupee, no set of dentures, no artifacts whatsoever. Only a vocabulary that vanishes as soon as it's fashioned into language. Only the vocabulary of exile and disappearance."Then there is the way in which Toutonghi handles the question of being a child of parents from different countries - of growing up "between two cultures". There is very little cliché about it. Instead, the pain and the beauty of it are acknowledged, and especially the prejudices of growing up with a father who may be Christian, but by being Egyptian is often easily equated with Islam and radicalism. I loved how Khosi remarks on the Western perception of Islam, of Egypt. Of how we're so selective in what is represented and remembered. As Khosi says, no one seems to know that innovation was praised by Mohammed, because we believe it to be a Western concept. In travelling between Butte and Cairo, Khosi shows us the best and the worst of both places as he perceives it - and he constantly shows us how intelligent he is. Not that he is a boasting sort of character, not at all, but his remarks are just incredibly smart and beautiful.Was the humour always to my taste? Not always. But I feel as if I am nitpicking, trying to come up with something critical to say about this book. You see, the thing is, it might not be this year's masterpiece, and it might not turn out to be my all-year-favourite, but thinking of this book, all I can think of are the positive, all I can do is smile for fondness.It was meeting Khosi, and seeing him grow into himself a little, that made me enjoy this book. But it was also Toutonghi's way with words, the numerous quote worthy passages, the many beautiful descriptions. And it was the warmth of the story. I do not think I can find a better word for it, warmth really is the right word to use. Warm and charming and wonderful. I am sure I will be thinking back to Khosi from time to time in the upcoming months. Especially when Egypt pops up in the news again.

  • Emily Crowe
    2018-09-20 23:39

    Though I had a few minor issues, I overall enjoyed this book quite a bit. The author makes generous use of literary allusions throughout the text, which I appreciated and had fun with, and also made me wonder how many of them I was missing. I'm not a huge fan of first person narratives. When they're done extremely well, the point of view does fade away to the point where I don't notice it any more, but it wasn't always the case with this book. Still, the book at least wasn't written in the "present pernicious" tense, a phrase which my friend Rob coined!Khosi is a young man in his early twenties living with his mom in Butte, Montana. His Egyptian father deserted them when Khosi was only three, leaving them with far more questions than answers, not to mention a staggering amount of gambling debt. One third of the way through the book, Khosi decides to go to Egypt to track down his father after learning that he'd returned briefly to Butte only to ask for divorce papers. Luckily for him, Khosi's mother wanted him to grow up in touch with his Egyptian heritage, so he has the benefit of years of classic Arabic under his belt by the time he lands in Egypt and is able to [mostly] communicate with locals on his own. Unfortunately for the reader, it's shortly after that point that Khosi starts seeing hallucinations of the ghost of Montana copper magnate (and incidentally Khosi's distant relative), William Andrews Clark. The ghost is a bona fide deux ex machina, though his presence does get an explanation later in the book. Add to this plot a scheming liar of a father, a gregarious ready-made Egyptian family, an Evel Knievel talisman, a brush with death, and a hashish creme brulee, and you wind up with a pretty good book that occasionally misses the mark but is still worth reading.

  • Sarah
    2018-10-15 01:39

    Couldn't put it down! "Western Montana's most famous half-Egyptian shut-in." I bought this after reading the Ron Charles review in the Washington Post. I've never bought based on a review before but that description of the protagonist, Khosi Saqr, caught my interest. I have little knowledge of Cairo, or Butte, or even Evel Knievel, so I can't say if they are well-represented. But the relationships are. A dysfunctional family, and a search for roots that turn out to be something else.

  • Bryan
    2018-10-05 01:44

    Did you know that Evel Knievel was one of the FBI's most valuable anti-Communist assets during the Cold War—and also, that he was a WEREWOLF? That's the premise behind up-and-coming novelist Pauls (Red Weather, Vergebung) Toutonghi's Evel Knievel Days, a rip-roaring, red-white-and-blue adventure yarn that's equal parts James Bond and Don McLean.Toutonghi is obviously borrowing the Seth Grahame-Smith formula of retroactively adding classic horror elements to a historical narrative, but it never comes off as outright theft. This is due in large part to the fact that the book's cover and dust jacket summary give no indication of the wild ride that the reader is in for. And Toutonghi has clearly done his research, blending fact and fiction seamlessly into a tense, gripping narrative (for example, did you know that Knievel's infamous failed Wembley jump was derailed by a Cuban sniper shooting him in the leg with a silver bullet?). I also appreciated his wry references and attention to detail, including a casual mention on page 76 of "Jeremy Dean," a little-known alias of Beatle-slayer Mark David Chapman.Although I found the numerous, extended scenes of graphic werewolf sex to be somewhat excessive, I'm no prude, and I think that any fair-minded reader will understand that Toutonghi had to give the public what they craved in order to increase the book's mass appeal—and hopefully lead to a movie deal or HBO series... fingers crossed!

  • Crown Publishing Group
    2018-09-26 03:21

    From the critically-acclaimed author of Red Weather comes a heartwarming, witty story of immigration and belonging, false starts and new beginnings, and finding out what home truly meansKhosi Saqr has always felt a bit out of place in Butte, Montana, hometown of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. Half-Egyptian, full of nervous habits, raised by a single mother, owner of a name that no one can pronounce -- Khosi has never quite managed to fit in. But when a mysterious stranger arrives in town (and Khosi's longtime love uses Butte's annual festival, Evel Knievel Days, as a time to announce her impending marriage to someone else), Khosi takes his first daredevil like risk, and travels to Egypt to find his father -- and a connection to his heritage. What he discovers, in Cairo, is much more startling than he'd imagined it could be. The city is a thrilling mix of contradictions -- and locating his father turns out to be the easy part. Through mistaken identity, delicious food, and near tragedy, Khosi and his parents rediscover what it means to be connected to each other, to a family, and to a culture.The timely story of a young man searching for his roots, and along the way finding his identity, Evel Knievel Days is Khosi’s charming and funny journey to learn where he came from, and who he is.

  • Rick Gingrich
    2018-09-15 00:34

    4 Stars (Originally 3.5 - Now 4 after I caught myself thinking about the story and recommending it to a friend :) )I debated between giving this 3 or 4 stars. I liked the story quite a bit, the interesting character development, and the themes it explored. The story explores a period in the life of Koshi Saqr, an American, who is also half Egyptian, and on the verge of adulthood. It is an interesting story of his search for a connection to his father and his Egyptian heritage. The story moves quickly, and most of the time, it flows naturally. It starts off strong, but towards the end, the story feels a little unpolished, with some contrived scenes and abrupt transitions (though I am reading an advance copy). At first, the ending really threw me off. The epilogue felt like it was tacked on to the book to make it more relevant to current day Egypt, but doesn't really connect to the characters. After some thought, I realized that it did connect to the character, and with the setting of Cairo, it would be difficult to not bring the story in to the current day. I do wish that the epilogue was longer, or more tightly integrated into the story, but I've made my peace with it.Overall though, definitely worth a read.

  • Susan Massad
    2018-09-18 19:18

    Pauls Toutonghi’s book Evel Knievel days takes us into the heart of Butte, Montana where the story’s protagonist, Khosi a half Egyptian, half Russian American young man lives with his idiosyncratic single Mom Amy. She’s hardly the most stable woman around, but she’s a fabulous cook and has perfected Mediterranean cuisine so much that she’s able to make a living to support herself and her only son. Amidst a personal crisis, Khosi embarks upon an overseas journey to find his absentee father. Though he’s got some eccentricities of his own, his clever wit and dry humor see him through some pretty challenging life-altering events. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this book and could especially relate to the competitiveness between Khosi’s Mom who is a caterer, and a local Lebanese restaurateur. Much of what unfolds in this story and Khosi’s coming of age journey is bittersweet. I highly recommend this book, which will have the reader both laughing and crying but in the end, rejoicing for Khosi.

  • Ericafoferica
    2018-09-25 02:33

    I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway section.I must admit that it did take me a few chapters to actually enjoy the story. The author uses a lot of detail, which I certainly can appreciate. The main character Khosi is witty, charming, and struggling with the mystery of his father's leaving. I really enjoyed the many references to Khosi's Egyptian background, which in itself was quite educational. It was entertaining to read about Khosi's trip to Egypt and the many struggles he faced in trying to figure out the person his father really is. In the end, I'm glad Khosi's father realized his mistakes and his faults at keeping so many secrets from his family in Egypt. It was nice to see how the family could come together as one for this first time, including Khosi's mother. This novel has a powerful message about family and the many struggles we all go through in life in order to figure out our identity in the world.

  • Eve
    2018-10-10 02:27

    This book was received for free through Goodreads First Reads.I will admit that the tie-in to Evel Knievel was not a positive for me, but this was absolutely not a book that revolved around Evel Knievel. It is the story of Khosi, an endearing if somewhat neurotic young man raised in Montana by a single mother. In his early-20s, Khosi becomes interested in his biological father, and sets out to learn more about his Egyptian roots. The story is engaging, well written, and heartwarming. I would not be surprised to see this book land on “top” lists of 2012.

  • Read It Forward
    2018-10-05 20:26

    We were charmed by Pauls Toutonghi and his first novel, Red Weather, one of our favorites of 2006 and a terrific coming-of-age story. Pauls writes with that rare combination of wit and heart. His writing is brilliant but warm, his characters original but knowable, and the story he tells in Evel Knievel Days is unlike anything we've read before. And what a title, right?

  • Adrienne
    2018-10-07 19:24

    I may be a little bit biased because I spent my childhood summers in Montana, my uncle was good friends with Evel Knievel and I recently visited Cairo--so this book is right up my alley. Also, I tend to love quirky books.Even if those things are not true of you, you should give this charming book a try. It's going to be a little different from most other stuff you read.

  • Kevin
    2018-09-28 19:25

    A smart, multicultural comedy of errors. The relationship between the narrator, the young Montana-raised guy, Khosi, and his estranged Egyptian father is a funny love/hate roller coaster throughout this lighthearted novel.

  • Melissa
    2018-09-18 03:46

    Weird. But I liked it.

  • Tuck
    2018-09-15 22:41

    boy from butte goes back to cairo as a man to visit his relatives, adventures ensue, and terrible sickness, but he gets well,phew, and returns to butte, to true love. nice novel, really.

  • Mike Cavosie
    2018-09-17 02:28

    Kind of snuck up on me there at the end--a crescendo that served to elevate the entire story.

  • Stephanie Cote
    2018-09-14 23:25

    I loved this book.

  • Cynthia
    2018-10-12 20:30

    Excellent writing, but some of the plot elements were a stretch for me.

  • Della Scott
    2018-09-17 21:43

    I found out about this from Powell's "Daily Dose." It's about Butte, how could they go wrong?

  • Rea Keech
    2018-10-10 01:45

    This is an enjoyable story about a young man born and raised in Butte, Montana, whose Egyptian-born father abandoned him and his mother when he was three. He leaves Butte in his twenties and goes to Cairo in search of his father. The novel is written in a simple, conversational style and has a basic plot, but Khosi Saqr’s quirks of character provide a fascination as he reacts to people and society in Butte and Cairo.The story is told almost completely in simple, staccato sentences, the way we often talk to each other:“I hated leaving Butte. Butte was home. Butte was comfort. Butte was order.”“One fact. One instructive, inelegant fact. My mother’s husband, my father, my unknown and distant father, my mockery of that word father … deserted us when I was three.”As in conversation when we want to be dramatic, parallel structure is prominent:“I had books on biology, chemistry, calculus, engineering. I had encyclopedias and Bibles. I had the Great Books, the classics of world religious thinking, of philosophy and poetry and fiction. I also had ….”This style keeps up the impression that we are not so much reading a book as listening to somebody talk to us. Admittedly, after a while the style can be reminiscent of what George Orwell mocked in his 1940 essay “Boys’ Weeklies.” A sample that Orwell gives:Groan!“Shutup, Bunter!”Groan!Shutting up was not really in Billy Bunter’s line. He seldom shut up, though often requested to do so. On the present awful occasion the fat Owl of Greyfriars was less inclined than ever to shut up. And he did not shut up! He groaned, and groaned, and went on groaning.The plotline is basically whether Khosi will find his father or not and how they will react to each other if he does. There are numerous chances for twists, turns, or surprises, but the reader who is hoping for these will be disappointed. The story is completely straightforward. What holds our interest is the vivid description and the appreciative depiction of the Egyptian people.

  • Jill
    2018-10-04 19:39

    Not sure why it took me so long to read this but once I started found it hard to put down. The plot was a classic story of the person who doesn’t quite fit in and goes on a journey to find themselves. The characters really drew me in, and the setting was interesting and unique. Throw in a rare genetic disease, a ghost and absolutely delicious descriptions of food, and its a winner! I will be searching for Egyptian restaurants in my area soon!

  • Anndee
    2018-09-16 23:39

    Not bad.

  • Michael
    2018-09-25 01:16

    My review, published in the Missoula Independent:On the dust jacket of Pauls Toutonghi's Evel Knievel Days, the viewer is faced with a visual conundrum: two pyramids and a palm tree, beneath which is reflected two Montana peaks and a pine tree. It is an impeccable metaphor for the book's many multiculturally symbolic tropes. The author's second novel is a trip through Montana history, Middle Eastern cuisine and the crises of growing up in exile from your heritage. "This is what it feels like to be half of something," he writes. "You're never truly anything."Beginning with the lead-up to Butte's annual Evel Knievel Days (a marathon of motorcycle stuntsmanship) and ending with the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the book is narrated by Khosi Saqr, a museum guide at Butte's Copper King Mansion (his great-great grandfather was copper baron William Andrews Clark), where he is driven by OCD proclivities. Khosi happens to be in love with his engaged friend, Natasha, while caring for his Wilson's disease-suffering mother, Amy, and contemplating where his twenty-something life is headed. When a stranger who might be his absent Egyptian father starts loitering around Khosi's workplace and then disappears, Khosi's ordered life quickly unwinds, and he journeys to Cairo in search of his disappearing parent and, ultimately, his identity.Toutonghi keeps Evel Knievel Days light and chatty, employing some Eggers-esque tangents to great effect: a recipe for hashish-infused crème brûlée, the diagram of the spot where Khosi's father touches his hand. Precious without being maudlin, the novel tackles the themes of romantic love, familial love and love of food with deftness and humor. From Amy's strident devotion to her son to the ambivalent likability of Khosi's father—a gambling addict involved in shady deals—every character here is an exercise in writing authentic people.Once in Egypt, Khosi finds a world of mishap and hurtful falsehood: his father is engaged to a younger woman, his relatives believe that he and his mother are dead and he finds himself drawn into a run-in with the Egyptian underworld on his father's behalf. And if that weren't enough, he then contracts yellow fever. The book drags somewhat in the last chapters, as Khosi's parents reconnect around his hallucinatory suffering. But Toutonghi's main characters are so vivid that this lapse into a typical climax is entirely excusable.Evel Knievel Days is a multifaceted testament to disparate cultures. It's the foraging for selfhood in the messy roots of the past. Khosi Saqr is a memorably flawed character, crafted with wit and intelligence. He's a gentle Holden Caulfield with more focus on family than on frustration. Filling out his narrative with musings on philosophy and society, Toutonghi has composed an understated fictional autobiography that is both introspective and absorbing. Except for one or two inconsiderable annoyances (the frequent appearance of the ghost of William Andrews Clark to give Khosi vital information is one of them), it is nonetheless a quiet evocation of displacement and belonging, America and the Middle East, walking onions and the mythical complexities of making baklava. It's an affectingly simple and simply effective comedic melodrama in nearly every way.

  • Ron Charles
    2018-09-16 22:36

    For a satisfying and original comedy about the dejected American male, turn to Pauls Toutonghi’s second novel, “Evel Knievel Days.” A half-Egyptian and half-Latvian American who lives in Seattle, Toutonghi has a light touch that can dart between slapstick and deadpan humor. His protagonist here is Khosi Saqr, a great-great-grandson of the founder of a vast copper empire in Butte, Mont., the birthplace of the eponymous motorcycle daredevil. Khosi is an eccentric autodidact who ventures out only to work in a local history museum and tries not to resent his reputation as “western Montana’s most famous half-Egyptian shut-in.” His life has been considerably constrained by his obsessive-compulsive disorder and his sense of responsibility for his mother. She’s a caterer who specializes in Egyptian fare, using recipes passed along by the man who abandoned them 20 years ago. “Despite her hatred for my father’s onions,” Khosi says, “my mother could not let go of her love for his food.”As the novel opens, their lives are upended when that errant ne’er-do-well flies in from Egypt for just a few hours to get divorce papers signed and announce that he’s dying. Suddenly, Khosi cannot bear his highly regulated life any longer. Unable to have the young woman he loves, increasingly aware that everyone else’s life is moving forward, and determined to make contact with his elusive father, he breaks out of his compulsive routines and hops on a plane to Cairo. “The past, the history of my family, is a strange and hybrid beast,” he says. “On the one side: exhaustively documented. I live and work in its midst. But on the other side: nothing. No body, no clothes, no cane, no toupee, no set of dentures, no artifacts whatsoever. Only a vocabulary that vanishes as soon as it’s fashioned into language. Only the vocabulary of exile and disappearance.”Amid all the corny antics in Cairo, where most of the book takes place, we get a story about discovering your roots, forgiving your parents and eating great food. Some of this may make no sense, but nonetheless Toutonghi wins us over with lots of madcap family hysteria as the ridiculous lies from Khosi’s father are spun and unspun. And what tale in the cradle of civilization would be complete without a few spectral visits from the ghost of an Old West Montana pioneer?The nervous energy of Toutonghi’s storytelling is charming, even though it forces him to run quickly across ground that indicates more substance than he’s willing to mine. Passing remarks about the environmental effects of the copper industry and the loneliness of being dark-skinned in an all-white town fly through Khosi’s chatty narrative. One moment, he’s describing the eerie boxes of the artist Joseph Cornell; another, he’s alluding to Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital,” Alice B. Toklas’s creme brulee or the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. But this is a narrator so anxious about losing our attention that the story remains as sweet and light as his aunts’ famed baklava.http://www.washingtonpost.com/enterta...

  • Brett Boerner
    2018-10-07 21:27

    I received this book from a Goodreads Firstread giveaway.I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but the title itself was something that pulled me in. Khosi, our main character, travels to meet his Egyptian father in Cairo. This may not sound like such a big leap, but Khosi has a mother that needs constant vigilence in taking her medication for a condition she has. Also, Khosi most definitely has OCD, and has hardly ever left his hometown of Butte, Montana.The basic story is one of self-discovery and the ability to break through one's shortcomings. Khosi manages to overcome many difficulties on his trip and does seem to grow stronger and more confident.Some of the best parts of the book are the interactions with Khosi and his Iranian relatives, especially his father. There quite a few moments of dialogue that made me smile and even laugh. There are also some pretty good descriptions of Khosi's obsessive behaviors from his point of view that seem convincing and maybe give us an insight into the mind of someone with OCD.However, those moments of clarity regarding his OCD are only widely interspersed into a larger story that quite often seems like it ignores what a person with OCD might actually do in a certain situation. Having said that, I could be completely wrong and only someone with a similar condition would be able to say for sure.One theme that the author tries mostly successfully (at least in my view) to interweave into the story is food and cooking. Khosi's mother is a caterer and ran a restaurant with his father when they were married. Khosi's aunts are also often depicted in the kitchen cooking or just discussing food. We also have a couple of recipes given to us during the course of the book, which manage to be connected to the story, but seem a bit out of place. Food and cooking end up being directly connected with how the story ends, and the connection is a strong one and quite meaningful. My problem is that the idea of food could maybe have been more subtly interwoven into the narrative without being thrown into our faces as much it is done.Now, back to the title of the book. I don't want to give anything away, but the beginning and end of the story are also connected to Evel Knievel. I think the ending is much more elegantly tied to Evel and his stunt-devil ways, but the beginning is also strong.I enjoyed this book overall, but felt there could have been more done with the themes and characters presented to us. That is why I rated this a 3, rather than a 4.

  • Cheryl
    2018-10-10 19:38

    "I couldn't stop blushing. I could feel the heat of it rising through me. I could feel it filling my cheeks with a steady burn. Embarrassment tumbled through my body, and my senses all felt alive and sharp, despite the lack of air coming into my lungs, and I could hear the clatter of forks and knives and, a few feet away, the single elderly man who slurped at his cup of sweetened tea. Behind the wall, Farid's sous chef stood poised over a large-mouthed cauldron of soup...beyond that, beyond the exterior wall of this building, and the exterior wall of the next building, was another room with another set of lives, an insurance agency, or a sporting goods store. And there, sitting at a desk and looking at an actuarial table, or standing in the aisle looking at a price tag or talking softly with someone abbot things I could never imagine, were strangers, complete strangers, strangers who lived their lives so close to mine, so close but utterly separate, and distant, and irredeemably lost to me. If you followed along from house to house, working your way through downtown, knocking through walls and rendering them invisible, disappearing and reappearing, smoke-floating like a wayward spirit, looking in on people from the city of Butte, and then the country of America, and then outward in an ever expanding geometric intimacy, spanning the whole globe, the entirety of our world, you'd find only a few people who knew me, a handful of people whose recognition of my face would trigger a burst of light in their minds, a brief, happy synaptic impulse deep within their memories, a bit of lightning...what a miracle they are, these pictures of us, these evidences of our bodies, carried around in the minds of human beings, human beings who, in my case, were thousand of lonely miles from here- who were encased in the darkness of night even as I sat here and ate lunch by myself on a sunlit summer day. There was an ache in me for them , an ache that was low and dark and alluvial and undid the sheltering sky."I have never been a young, OCD, biracial (white and Arab) man working at a tiny museum in Butte, Montana, but he seemed real to me, and his story was sweet, and unexpectedly mesmerizing. He travels to Egypt to find his father and experiences the usual trials and tribulations of such a quest, but the tenderness and sweetness and humor set it apart from other similar stories.

  • Jenny Shank
    2018-10-01 01:18

    REVIEW - From the February 18, 2013 High Country News issueEvel Knievel DaysPauls Toutonghi293 pages,hardcover: $24.Crown, 2012.Khosi Saqr Clark, the narrator of Pauls Toutonghi's funny and winsome second novel, Evel Knievel Days, isn't a typical native of Butte. Sure, he loves Montana and enjoys the annual Evel Knievel Days spectacle, complete with its "American Motordome Wall of Death," but his neurotic nature ("the obsessive-compulsive's worst fear: the world infinitesimally askew") and his singular heritage set him apart.Khosi is the only child of an eccentric single mother, Amy Clark, a caterer specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine using recipes she learned from her husband, Khosi's Coptic Christian Egyptian father. Khosi's father left when he was 3 and made no effort to keep in touch, leaving behind only unanswered questions and a garden full of invasive Egyptian walking onions.Khosi works as a tour guide in his great-great-grandfather's Copper King Mansion. "He was a copper king," Khosi explains, "a second-generation Irish immigrant turned vest-wearing frontier industrialist."Meanwhile, Khosi lives at home and keeps watch over his mother, who suffers from Wilson's disease, an ailment that makes her unable to absorb copper, and requires her to take "an army of pastel pharmaceuticals daily." Missed pills make her behave in odd ways; at times, Khosi finds her sitting on the roof."I was a card-carrying member of MENSA," Khosi explains, "but the problem was this: I hated leaving Butte. Butte was home. Butte was comfort. Butte was order." So Khosi never left for college, unlike his lifelong best friend and secret love interest, Natasha, who returned from college with a fiancé.A crisis over Natasha and Khosi's desire to find out about the other half of his identity prompt him to travel to Egypt and seek his father. In the second half of the book, we experience Cairo through the perspective of a native Montanan who has never traveled. Khosi is often bewildered and in unexpected peril. He believes he's receiving advice from the ghost of his great-great-grandfather and learns his dad is even more of a shyster than he'd expected.Khosi finally finds the personal order he's always craved by plunging himself into the disorder of Cairo in the conclusion of this quirky and heartfelt novel.http://www.hcn.org/issues/45.3/a-mont...

  • Ayanea
    2018-09-25 01:33

    *Die Suche nach dem Glück*Die Sphinx von Montana ist ein Roman, der die Suche eines jungen Mannes nach seinem Vater erzählt. Khosi ist 23 und lebt in Montana, genauer gesagt in Butte zusammen mit seiner Mutter. Als auf einmal sein lang verschollener Vater in Butte erscheint, um die Unterschrift der Mutter auf den Scheidungspapieren zu erhalten, da er angibt schwer krank zu sein, begibt sich Khosi auf die Spuren seines Vaters und reist ihm nach in das fremde Ägypten.Gleich vorweg: der Schreibstil dieses Romans ist wirklich einzigartig und hat Wiedererkennungswert. Der Autor umschreibt mitunter traumhafte Szenarien und kann es mit witzigen Wortwendungen oder Dialogen ein Lächeln auf die Lippen des Lesers zaubern. Besonders ausgefeilt sind dabei auch die Charaktere im Buch.Da hätten wir natürlich Khosi, die Hauptfigur. Er wird regiert von diversen Zwangsneurosen, ist sehr korrekt und höchst intelligent. Manche Gespräche zwischen ihm und seinem Vater sind einfach zum Schreien komisch.Sein Vater wiederrum ist ein äußerst schwacher Charakter. Er ist spielsüchtig und hat seine Familie aufgrund von Spielschulden verlassen. Sehr herzlich scheint er jedenfalls nicht zu sein.Die Mutter von Khosi ist einfach eine treue Seele. Sie ist an Morbus Willson erkrankt und dementsprechend mitunter etwas neurotisch. Auch hier gibt es einige Szenen, die den Unterhaltungsgrad des Lesers in unermessene Höhen treibt.Der etwas andere Charakter ist das Land Ägypten. Der Autor versteht es glänzend das fremde Land dem geneigten Leser näher zu bringen. Ich war selbst schon zweimal in Ägypten und hatte in einigen Passagen richtige Wiedererkennungseffekte. Man meint förmlich die Düfte der Speisen, die Gerüche auf den Straßen und den Staub der sich eigentlich überall befindet in der Lunge zu haben.Dieses Buch zu lesen war also mitunter ein kleines Highlight und ich vergebe gerne 3,5 Sterne. Wieso es nicht mehr wurden? Nun, einige Stellen fand ich nicht ganz nachvollziehbar. Die Reaktionen der Mutter gerade zum Ende hin. Auch haben sich für mich einige Stellen etwas in die Länge gezogen und ich verlor mitunter das Interesse am Geschehen.Dennoch kann man dieses Buch wirklich lesen- es wird dem Leser einige humorvolle Stunden bescheren.

  • Hilary
    2018-09-28 19:41

    I won this book through the first-reads program.What first drew my attention to Evel Knievel Days was that it took place (partially) in Butte, Montana. Butte drew my attention. I lived in Montana for a while, Bozeman to be exact, and went to Butte several times. I had a good time reading Pauls Toutonghi's descriptions of Butte, and the general point of view that people in Montana tend to hold of the world. It made me miss Bozeman a ton, let me say.Evel Knievel Days was about a lot more than just Montana. It was about heritage, and Egypt - family relations, and integrity... it was about figuring out your place in the world and coming to terms with yourself. The book was engaging, and the language vibrant. I found myself laughing more than once at the clever turns of phrase used, and in particular, how difficult it can be to convey ideas in a non-native language. Pauls Toutonghi did a wonderful job of bridging the gap between two very diverse cultures and finding common ground in human experience. He also did a darn good job of making one feel what it's like to be obsessive compulsive and have panic attacks.I don't normally read books about Middle Eastern cultures, and found this one extremely accessible. The streets of Cairo, and the nearly transcendent experience of cooking a complex meal were conveyed in an almost informal language that made one experience the actions as if they were your own. I found the book a very interesting read, and know some people I'd love to pass it on to from my Montana days. I think, more than anything else, Pauls Toutonghi portrayed the interest and intelligence with which Montanan's learn about other cultures. :)