When the ridiculous shows us how the truth is just all f*cked up.
Synopsis of All Her Father's Guns by James Warner: Cal Lyte, a gun-loving venture capitalist, is tired of paying alimony to his ex-wife Tabytha. Plotting to blackmail her and derail her campaign for Congress, he enlists the help of their daughter's boyfriend, British academic Reid Seyton, to unearth some Lyte family secrets. But the results turn out to be more than anyone bargained for, in an escalating cycle of revelations that will leave nobody's life the same.
My thoughtsDo you know what this book reminds me of? Adam Sandler in the movie Click. Funny but serious. Laugh-out-loud ... but scary. Because you know that despite how outrageous things are, they could actually happen, and they often do.
This book is a satire. I appreciated the wit and humour. And there were so many little nuggets of wisdom, and such spot-on insights in human nature, buried in all the snarkiness. The story is tight and snappy. There is an ease and confidence in the writing that translates to an easy, quick read. But not to say that this book didn't have lots to say!
Cal Lyte is a macho gun-loving venture capitalist. His ex-wife Tabytha, who has grand political aspirations, is milking him for all his worth. They have a daughter, Lyllyan, who generally keeps her nose clean. One day, Cal meets up with Lyllyan's boyfriend, Reid Seyton, to dig up some dirt on Tabytha to derail her campaign for congress. Cal can't seem to cope and calls upon the unconventional methods of therapist Viorela. In the process, weird and outrageous things happen, more than what anyone bargained for. (Note that I didn't put any spoilers ... read it if you want to find out!)
The story's chapters alternately are told from the viewpoints of Cal Lyte (a reference to the drug?) and Reid Seyton (no, not pronounced 'Satan') , making for a decidedly male perspective. The characters are generally strong, articulate and ballsy. And not shy. When female characters come up - in the form of Lyllyan, Tabytha and Viorela -- they are equally ballsy, even bitchy -- women with penises. The characters are so outrageous but so tragically human that they become plausible, "lovable" messes!
I'll say right off that this book isn't for everyone. I honestly had some trouble getting into this. I felt like I was reading something I shouldn't be, like somehow being in a sorority/fraternity house, listening into conversations, and just not getting the joke. A lot of the subtleties probably got lost on me: there is a lot of academic-speak (mainly Theory), a lot of political pokes and jokes (mainly referencing American politics), very liberal views on abortion and pro-choice, and tons of references to drugs and guns. (Ok, I'll just pretend to look smart and nod :) )
I went through some of the author's back story and he is British living in America, and is an academic. Face it, this was written by an academic and it comes across! Warner's British perspective shines through on this American social landscape he writes about, oftentimes spot-on observations from foreign eyes which makes for some interesting and strange insights.
First buds sprouted from knobbly plane trees, and undergraduate couples fumbled amorously on over-irrigated lawns, beside phallic pillars with buttons you were supposed to press if anyone sexually harassed you. I stood biting my lip in the shadow of the Department of Theory, a trapezoidal ferroconcrete structure whose ugliness I'd somehow never fully appreciated before. I felt utterly paralyzed."Over-educated people are OK at doing what they're told to do," Cal told me once, "but lousy at figuring out what to do," and I haven't come up with a snappy comeback to that one.
- p. 26
And with that, I don't have a come-back to the title, which I think is just brilliant.
Verdict: A crazy mix of extreme characters and hard-nosed writing, that is a commentary on the craziness of business, politics and of life.
- Read more on the official website.
- Which character from All Her Father's Guns are you? Take the quiz.
- Check out my Friday 56 of this book.