MY WIFE AND MY DEAD WIFE by Michael Kun

MY WIFE AND MY DEAD WIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Loser tailor seeks woman willing to subjugate herself and deal with his multitude of issues.

In his last outing (The Locklear Letters, 2003), Kun seemed to have an unerring eye for those lost men of the world who pine away for their perfect fantasy women. In this sharper and edgier riff on a similar type, he takes us into the world of Hamilton “Ham” Ashe. Hailing from a small Georgia town, Ham now works as a tailor in Atlanta (having a little boating knowledge, he answered a misspelled ad looking for a “sailor” but got hired anyway), while his live-in girlfriend, Renee, who recently lost her job at a hospital, does nothing. The bulk of the story is a nonstop rant by Ham against Renee and the horrors she inflicts upon him, mostly of the monetary variety. Deciding that she doesn’t want to go back to work, Renee announces her desire to become a country-and-western singer, necessitating the purchase of a guitar, guitar lessons, and some really awful outfits to accompany her horrible songs. Ham takes it all in silent resentment, occasionally flashing back to memories of his ex-wife Shellie, who hailed from the same small town as he. Other memories, of a kid from Ham’s high school who was brutally murdered, also come floating back to prove a crucial development in the story (it’s not what readers might think—this doesn’t turn into a crime novel—but it’s shocking nonetheless). For a time, Ham’s rantings are amusing as Renee goes from one ridiculous type of selfish behavior to another, but as we see more of Ham’s dead-end life, the more sympathetic she becomes. Things at first seem suffused with the sour taste of misogyny, like a standup comic going on endlessly about his crazy girlfriend, but ultimately Kun proves an abler writer than that.

An endearing, bittersweet romance that reads like a comedy.

Pub Date: June 15th, 2004
ISBN: 1-931561-69-9
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004




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