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Literature / The Lunatic

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The Lunatic is a novel by Jamaican author Anthony Winkler, published in 1987.

Aloysius is the village madman in Moneague, St. Ann, tolerated by his neighbors but otherwise shunned because of his tendency to hold conversations with literally everything: rocks, trees, bushes, animals, etc. He lives in the bushland, where he often seeks shelter under the limbs of a friendly flame-heart tree, and scavenges for wild fruit to feed himself. Because he's a lunatic, he's shunned by the local women, and as a result hasn't had any sex in two years. He also claims to have a thousand names, which he'll spout off if you ask him his name.

Then one day, he meets Inga Schmidt, a German tourist who's out snapping photos of the local flora and fauna. Their meeting is very unexpected: she finds him asleep with his, er, flag-pole flying high, and takes photos of it.


Inga, it turns out, is sex-crazy. Hilarity Ensues. Then she brings in a second local man, a butcher named Service, to satisfy herself. Even MORE hilarity ensues, leading to the three concocting a plan to burgle the house of the local landowner.

The novel spawned a film in 1991, starring Paul Campbell and Carl Bradshaw as Aloysius and Service, respectively.

Tropes present in The Lunatic:

  • Adapted Out: Several characters in the novel are excised from the movie, including Busha's circle of friends, the village shopkeeper, and the schoolboys who invoke Inga's wrath.
  • Anything That Moves: Inga has a voracious sexual appetite. So does the village doctor.
  • The Atoner: Service at the end of the novel.
  • Berserk Button: Oh, geez, does Inga hate it if her partner finishes before she does. The first one we see is when, twice in a row, she explodes at Aloysius for not being able to control his climax. She later boxes Service on the ear for likewise being too quick.
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  • Big Eater: Aloysius.
  • Big Fancy House: Hubert "Busha" Macintosh, the local landowner, has one. So does Barrister Lingstrom.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Inga claims this about Aloysius.
    Inga: I stay vith him because he has a big cock! Vhat you think of that?!
  • Blood Knight: Service is a little too eager to use his knives and machete to settle conflicts. It doesn’t help that his profession is that of a butcher, or that he derives amusement from beheading chickens and then watching the headless corpses run around blindly.
  • Bowdlerise: In the novel, the widow Mrs. Dawkins has a recurring problem with farting, which makes Busha not want to sit near her in church. The movie changes this to her having a shrill singing voice instead.
  • Butt-Monkey: Aloysius suffers all sorts of mishaps throughout the story. Service gets his fair share of this trope as well, mostly at Inga's hands. Busha also suffers his fair share of misfortunes, some comical and others not.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Inga does this to her father in the movie adaptation.
  • Cardboard Prison: Inga escapes from the jail where she’s held for her part in the robbery of Busha’s house. The movie outright shows that her father's connections are responsible.
  • Character Development: Aloysius and Service both get this. Service's is especially noteworthy, as he goes from being a Flat-Earth Atheist and Blood Knight to The Atoner.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: During her first sexual escapade with Aloysius, Inga beats him up for...being too quick. She does the same thing to Service later, for the same reason.
  • Dark Action Girl: Inga knows her kung fu. She’s actually strong enough to break off a tree limb with her bare hand.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Service.
    Aloysius: Mi brain confuse.
    Service: What brain?
    • A lot of the animals and vegetation that Aloysius hears talking serve in this capacity as well.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Whatever Inga did to the boy who called her an insulting name. However, it is potent enough that his cronies never call her any nicknames again.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And boy, Aloysius deserves it.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Service claims that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, no coming back from death, no reincarnation...for him, everything is mud. He improves his viewpoint much later.
  • Freudian Excuse: The film version hints pretty strongly that Inga may have one for her behavior, given how she calls her father out for not showing her enough love and care when she's in the courtroom. The possible excuse is less pronounced and public in the book, though she clearly doesn't get along very well with her father there either.
  • Genre Savvy: Inga proves herself to be this, training Aloysius and Service to burgle houses in little time, and supplying gloves for them to hide fingerprints and wrapping their feet to prevent leaving footprints, in preparation to rob Busha's house.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Aloysius with Inga and later the widow, Mrs. Dawkins.
  • Happily Married: Busha Macintosh and his wife Sarah.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Service.
  • Immodest Orgasm: “O-iso-propoxy-phenyl!”
    Aloysius: What dat word mean?
    Inga: Cockroach poison.
    Aloysius: Cockroach poison?
    Aloysius: It don’t matter.
  • Jerkass: Service, before his Heel–Face Turn. Also, Busha.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The schoolchildren mock Aloysius for his madness, and a group of schoolboys take it upon themselves to point out other people's physical deformities and oddities. Inga retaliates against one of them in what later becomes a Noodle Incident.
  • Knife Nut: Service.
  • Large Ham: Inga’s actress in the film version.
  • Love Triangle: Aloysius, Inga and Service.
  • Mama Bear: The mother of the boy Inga assaults swears an oath that she'll kill the white woman before sundown. Thanks to Aloysius's intervention, it doesn't happen.
  • Manly Tears: Aloysius does this from time to time.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Aloysius, of course.
  • Noodle Incident: Nobody ever finds out just what Inga did to that poor kid, though we can be very certain Attempted Rape is involved somehow.
    Mother: She hold him down and do something to de boy so wicked and nasty dat to dis day him won't tell me what she do!
  • Only Sane Man: Of the True Companions, Service believes himself to be this.
  • Overly Long Name: Did we mention that Aloysius has a thousand names?
    Aloysius Gossamer Longshoreman Technocracy Parliamentarian Patriarch Verdure Emulative Perihelion...
  • Parental Abandonment: Aloysius experienced this, being raised only by his aunt. For him, it's a source of sorrowful wishing.
  • Precision F-Strike: Inga's mouth is among the dirtiest in the whole story. As just one example:
    Inga: Shit! Fuck! Piss! Fuck! Bumbo! Bumbo! Cock!
    Busha: (to Aloysius) The woman is even madder than you!
  • Rule of Funny: A lot of what happens in the book is Played for Laughs.
  • Running Gag: "Aloysius Gossamer Longshoreman Technocracy Predominate Involuted Enraptured Parliamentarian Patriarch Verdure..." And that's only a mere handful of his thousand names.
  • Schmuck Bait: Go ahead and ask Aloysius his name. We'll wait.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Service murdered his own father.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Service challenges God to strike him down if he's lying about killing his father as Inga claims he is. God doesn't oblige.
  • True Companions: Of a rather weird sort: Aloysius, Inga, Service, and the flame-heart tree that has always been Aloysius's companion.
  • Tsundere: Inga.
  • Verbal Tic: Being German, Inga pronounces her W’s like V’s. Aloysius later starts copying her unconsciously.
  • Well Done Daughter Guy: Inga's father in the movie adaptation.