Quick Overview :
Guy Novel marries a thriller to a shameless love story and fun ride, what Graham Greene might have called "an entertainment."
It takes place over one month in 1996, from early August to early September, as the Taliban were about to take over Afghanistan, Bill Clinton was running for re-election, most people still used answering machines, and HotMail became the latest new thing.
The story is told retrospectively but vividly by Robert Wilder, a less-than-successful LA comic who creates big problems for himself by picking up a gorgeous bank clerk on the afternoon of his wedding. These problems have the happy resolution of the conventional plot of comedy: boy meets girl, boy loses girl (twice), boy gets girl (and vice-versa), but there are lots of turns along the way and lots of jokes and lots of play with the gendered conventions of Romance.
The political and historical moment enters with a vengeance halfway through the story, and spirits our he-roes to places as different as a five-star Paris hotel, Clinton's White House, and a yurt in Turkmenistan, while Robert learns something about loving another person for exactly who she is.
Not an easy lesson to learn--for him or for any of us--but the medicine goes down effortlessly with the clarity and grace and laugh-out-loud humor of Michael Ryan's widely-circulated, wildly-celebrated writing.
Michael Ryan taught writing at Iowa, Princeton University, the University of Virginia, and Warren Wilson College before becoming Director of the MFA Program in Poetry at UC Irvine. He has published an autobiography, a memoir, five books of poems, and a book of essays. Four of the books were New York Times Notable Books of the year. The autobiography was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review and the memoir was excerpted in the New Yorker.
His poetry has won many awards, including the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. In addition, he has won awards from The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review and the Poetry Society of America. Guy Novel is his first novel.