ONE OF THE GUYS

A debut novel built from a one-line premise: porn-shop worker finds dead Navy chaplain in a stall, assumes his identity, boards ship, let the fun begin. Miles Derry is a down-and-out, recovering drug user and alcoholic who mops the floor in a pornography arcade. His life has been a string of failures: he has disappointed his family, himself, and yearns for his daughter, Kari, who lives beyond his reach in the Midwest. On a fateful night, Miles finds the body of James Banquette, a Navy chaplain, toppled over in a stall, and notices a remarkable physical resemblance between himself and the expired cleric. The uniform also fits perfectly. So, after burning the shop and the body in it, Derry is off for the USS Warren Harding, bound for East Asia and filled with old salts, hard-asses, frightened recruits, you get the picture. (One lusty civilian math teacher, Robin in the tight shorts, adds spicy sexual intrigue.) The ship makes its way to the Philippines and, later, to Okinawa, both of them sexual emporia for the brazenly post-pubescent crew. Having witnessed a military mishap that incinerates a Philippine village and its inhabitants, Derry walks blandly through the tragedy of it all. He receives a homoerotic letter from a fellow priest, and begins a comforting correspondence with the widow Banquette, Michelle, who knows nothing of her husband’s death. In an unlikely series of contrived events, Miles/James saves a life, is nominated for the Navy Cross, and finds possible, lasting love with Michelle. But through it all—the beatings, the sex, the acronyms peppering the text—Derry is unmoved as a character. The possibly engaging dramas of the self (the assumed identity, the self as a role one plays, e.g.) are only vaguely explored. The opening situation is a cliché (the priest’s gay) that provides entry to an unamusing recital of experiences odd, often brutal, and ultimately inert to the main character, if not to the reader.

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-019365-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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