Thursday, January 26, 2012
This Book Made Lynn Both Laugh and Ponder
Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. With dubious financing and visions of Fashion Week runways, he sets up shop in a Brooklyn toothpick factory, pursuing his goals with monkish devotion (distractions of a voluptuous undergrad not withstanding). But mere weeks after a high-end retail order promises to catapult his (B)oy label to the big time, there's a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic Boyet is brought to Gitmo, handed a Koran, and locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot. Now, from his 6' x 8' cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his belief in American justice begins to erode.
With a nod to Junot Diaz and a wink to Gary Shteyngart, Alex Gilvarry's first novel explores some of the most serious issues of our time with dark eviscerating wit.
"I just finished the simultaneously delightfully funny and dead serious debut novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Gilvarry and would be remiss not to give you a heads-up that this book is gonna be HOT! The primary voice in the narrative is that of Boyet R. Hernandez, Filipino immigrant to NYC and aesthete extraordinaire, who unwittingly lands himself in Gitmo due to a seemingly innocuous business decision. Though a passionately talented fashion designer for women's upscale clothing, 'Boy' agrees to fabricate two expensive suits for a somewhat shady, but disarming male character who.... well, let's just say the liason leads to more scrutiny by Homeland Security than anyone might ever want in their life. The way this writer brings together the world of haute couture and the world of extraordinary renditions and satirizes all the unknown known unknowns is both a wickedly funny and a scathingly serious piece of fiction sure to elicit accolades comparing the writer to Kafka, Heller and Vonnegut and to be a book group choice for lively discussion. Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone magazine on General McChrystal caused such a stir says 'Finally, a young American novelist who has the guts to confront the absurdity of the last decade...'-- I agree. Gilvarry's 'Boy', with his book-length confession (did I mention he was raised Catholic?) in preparation for his upcoming tribunal, tells all (all the known knowns anyway) about his pre-rendition fashionista tribe and his post-'Overwhelming Event' fellow prisoners, guards and interrogators (and with no small helping of the coyote wisdom witnessing with an eye obsessively accustomed to nuance, color and drama) and had me laughing out loud as well as stopping in my tracks to ponder the human tragedy of it all by the final chapters."