"One of the Guys" provides us with hints and promises that we have a fine novelist in the making. As a reverse take on "The Rake's Progress" Young weaves a tale of self acceptance written during a time when such discussions are generally relegated to psychologist's offices or manic TV talk shows. Given the character Miles at the onset of this sprawling journey portrayed as someone who could easily be the chief player in a comedy of errors (and a rather unsympathetic one at that), Young manages to build his story well, pacing the episodes that remain related until the book's end. We end up caring for this self-made misfit in a way which leaves us with intospection as the last pages close. Some of the "authenticity of time and place and language" occassionally get tedious and suggest that the words were assembled for shock value. How many expletives and military acronyms do we need to "get it"? The character development is sound, and although the ending reels abit like a Hollywood movie, that may be intentional. This little novel should be considered for a run on the screen! In all, an enjoyable and well constructed tale of an antihero earning his wings. I look forward to this intelligent author's next book.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Grady Harp (gradyharp)
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
An implausible plot hampers the credibility of this earnest but awkward debut novel. Recovering alcoholic and drug addict Miles Derry sees the opportunity to escape his seamy life by assuming the identity of a Navy chaplain who has died of a heart attack during a backroom sexual encounter in a San Diego adult bookstore. After torching the naked corpse, Derry dons the dead chaplain's uniform and ships off to sea on board the U.S.S. Warren Harding. Derry manages to convince the hard-boiled crew, who have never seen the new chaplain before, that he is their man of the cloth. His gentle spirit and willingness to listen to the men make up for his complete ignorance about the military. The only sailor who is suspicious is removed by another convenient heart attack. Derry, determined to act morally and compassionately in his new incarnation, hungers to be accepted as "one of the guys" and to prove his worth to the men who serve as stand-ins for his condemning father. Endlessly detailed descriptions of military life include an overload of technical acronyms and forays into the lurid sex markets of the Philippines, Derry manages to cut a noble figure, much in contrast to the man he's impersonating, who carried on affairs with other military chaplains and deceived his faithful wife. The impostor even becomes a naval war hero and finally gets the respect he's always craved, and when he meets the chaplain's widow (the beautiful Michelle, also a reformed alcoholic), their erotic and ...