“I Am A Hero” by Midnight Quirk is the debut novel by the late academician Karl Menninger. The author was a pioneer in the field of post-modern studies, and in his own life, Menninger illustrated that a certain level of critical thinking is required in order to properly understand any concept. This is not just a novel about academic philosophy, but rather a novel about the value of logic in the 21st Century. In other words, it’s a novel about “I am a Hero” posters that you might have seen during the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s a very timely piece that exemplifies what people think modern students learn in those classes taught throughout the country.
Karl Menninger was born in Nazi Germany during World War II. He rose to prominence as an eminent scholar of European history, and in the process of doing so, he became a symbol of German strength and will during those darkest days of the European history. In addition to all of this, he also rose to a reputation as a distinguished writer. In “I Am A Hero,” he offers us a glimpse into the world of post-modernism, and the way that some of our greatest minds struggled with ideas of heroism and how they related to the concept of truth.
The story starts out in September 2021, as George “Gerry” Quirk goes to a Remembrance Day remembrance ceremony in Ottawa, Canada. As George walks away from the memorial, a neo-Nazi Skinhead lunges at him from behind, trying to get his attention. George immediately turns around, and in an instant we are introduced to Gerry. He is a disturbed college student who wears all black, and has a strange look in his eyes that looks like an alien.
Now, I won’t go into detail about what happens throughout the rest of the book, other than to say that the novel ends on a rather dramatic note. I won’t spoil what happens, but the short story ends with a bang, and with George walking away from the memorial service in a strange way, with a sense of determination in his eyes. Then, the novel begins to grow rapidly, and as the story unfolds it becomes clear that there might be more to this story than meets the eye. Quirk’s writing is not for the faint of heart, and there are moments when things will seem a little too dark and morbid for the tastes of some. However, I found that I really enjoyed the character, and liked the way he wrote about him. At times I felt that he did downplay the horrific acts that were done during World War II, and when those acts were brought to light in later years, it seemed that Quirk wanted to leave that part out.
In addition to the neo-Nazi attack, George was assaulted by members of what might be called the alternative right, which opposed to the mainstream right. This group believes that George is a hero, as he stood up to what might be considered a marginal fringe. In one scene they try to burn down the building where George worked at the time. This action leads George to realize what might have been his mistake, as he had stood up to these people, even if he thought it would mean losing his job. He went on to explain how he had changed his mind and believed that his actions had been justified. The alternative right, opposed to the mainstream right, believes that Quirk was a sell out for accepting the Nazi party line, and collaborating with them.
As is normally the case with midnight novelists, we start our story in the present, and are told what happened in George’s life over the last few minutes before we left him. He had called his boss to find out what the situation was, and had left a message for his secretary. The next we see of George is him at a fete, walking hand in hand with his new girlfriend. The two are talking about the future. This could very well be the end of George’s story, but we don’t see any of it.
George has just learned that his girlfriend is Jewish, and their conversation takes place at about midnight. She asks him why he didn’t tell her earlier, and he tells her that he doesn’t think it’s important. She then tells him that he shouldn’t have let her in on the secret, because she might tell her parents. This upsets George, who is convinced that his girlfriend is going to hate him for hurting her, and he goes off to talk to her parents.
In the last few minutes we see George as he sits in his chair at home, and the camera pans down to him, just before he gets up from his chair. We then flash forward a few minutes, to him walking through the woods with his friend Neil. Finally we cut to him in his study, reading a book. The words are spoken to him in a calm, soothing voice, as if he is talking to a child. This captures the essence of midnight by the character’s voice.