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Don of the Q: An American Don Quixote for the Atomic Age


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Fear not citizens of Huntsville, Alabama - a latter day Don Quixote patrols the streets to protect you from drugs, crime and atomic bombs.

Wikipedia lists around 200 major adaptations of Cervantes’ epic novel, Don Quixote, in diverse media from books to film to theatre, not to mention a library’s worth of scholarly exegeses on the subject. Generations of readers across the globe have identified with the character of this deranged visionary standing tall against an uncaring society. Add another title to that list with Michael Guillebeau’s short, satiric novel, “Don of the Q.”

In the blink of an eye, Donald Tiberius Becker, Jr., a clerk at the Quick Mart (aka, the “Q”) convenience store in Huntsville, Alabama, forgets who he is. Bereft of identity and purpose, he takes it to heart when a preacher tells him “God wants you, brother,”  and thus concludes that he is an angel who must complete a worldly mission to enter into heaven.

When a wasted addict named Dulce shows up at the Q, Don conceives that she is a princess and that his mission is to return her to her castle. While Dulce rehabs in a vacant laundromat next to the Q, Don rechristens her as Dulcinea and dedicates his next mission to her. 

Meanwhile, a rogue far-right militia has pilfered an atomic bomb and deployed it at a secret location in Huntsville, and the clock is ticking to detonation. With the help of Sancha, Don’s street smart coworker, he puts on armor made of a hoodie stuffed with adult diapers, mounts a motor scooter which he calls his steed, and armed with a balance pole that he uses as a lance, goes tilting at miniature golf windmills. When the police ask him to explain himself, he says, “We are American knights in the new age of American chivalry.”

Although clearly derivative, “Don of the Q” is a fanciful fable that uses innocence, rather than irreverence, as a tool for satire. There’s nothing strident in Don’s idealism, even though he is utterly uncompromising. When Sancha doubts it’s possible for them to do any more good, Don gently scolds her:

“There’s still too much darkness out there, Sancha. So much darkness, and we just listen to stories about it and go tsk-tsk… We’ve become a nation of tsk-tskers. We hear a horrible story about someone, and we go tsk-tsk and walk away.”

Guillebeau writes with an understated sense of humor that adeptly counter balances an over the top plot. He broaches big ideas in bite size pieces, and, like Don, embraces the simplicity of dreamers and madmen. 

Reviewed by

Gregg Sapp is author of the “Holidazed” satires. To date, six titles have been released: “Halloween from the Other Side,” “The Christmas Donut Revolution,” “Upside Down Independence Day,” “Murder by Valentine Candy," "Thanksgiving Thanksgotten Thanksgone," and the latest, "New Year's Eve, 1999."

About the author

Michael Guillebeau’s book MAD Librarian (Madison Press, 2017) won the Foreword Reviews Gold Medal for Humor Book of the Year. Guillebeau has published six novels and over thirty short stories, including three in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. view profile

Published on July 17, 2020

50000 words

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by