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One of the Guys Paperback – August 22, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An implausible plot hampers the credibility of this earnest but awkward debut novel. Recovering alcoholic and drug addict Miles Derry sees the opportunity to escape his seamy life by assuming the identity of a Navy chaplain who has died of a heart attack during a backroom sexual encounter in a San Diego adult bookstore. After torching the naked corpse, Derry dons the dead chaplain's uniform and ships off to sea on board the U.S.S. Warren Harding. Derry manages to convince the hard-boiled crew, who have never seen the new chaplain before, that he is their man of the cloth. His gentle spirit and willingness to listen to the men make up for his complete ignorance about the military. The only sailor who is suspicious is removed by another convenient heart attack. Derry, determined to act morally and compassionately in his new incarnation, hungers to be accepted as "one of the guys" and to prove his worth to the men who serve as stand-ins for his condemning father. Endlessly detailed descriptions of military life include an overload of technical acronyms and forays into the lurid sex markets of the Philippines, Derry manages to cut a noble figure, much in contrast to the man he's impersonating, who carried on affairs with other military chaplains and deceived his faithful wife. The impostor even becomes a naval war hero and finally gets the respect he's always craved, and when he meets the chaplain's widow (the beautiful Michelle, also a reformed alcoholic), their erotic and spiritual affinity wraps up the tale far too neatly. Some vivid characters may help readers overlook this graphically poetic book's improbable plot structure.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

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 allthe beatings, the sex, the acronyms peppering the textDerry 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 clich (the priests 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. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060931892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931896
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,986,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My name is Robert Clark Young. My life changed with one phone call on July 30, 2008. My mother, 500 miles away, had suffered a stroke that permanently garbled her speech. I left my home, my relationship and my friends--"temporarily"--to help my father care for her.

Four months later, my dad, straining from these new burdens, but keeping silent about his cares, suffered a stroke even more devastating than my mom's. He was paralyzed on the right side.

I had no background whatsoever in eldercare or geriatrics. Like so many millions of Americans my age, I was thrust into a life of eldercare. And instead of caring for one infirm parent, I had two of them.

I didn't think I could do it. But today I'm astounded to admit that eldercare has become routine for me. I'm amazed at how much I have learned. And I know that if I can learn to become a family caregiver, anyone can.

I want to use my experience to help others. I have written a book, THE SURVIVOR: How to Deal With Your Aging Parents, While Enriching Your Own Life.

I have been doing this work for free in my parents' home for five years. I consider it the most important work I have ever done. These years have been the most exciting, gratifying, and transformative period of my life. I'm convinced that any person with a compassionate heart can become a successful caregiver.

According to AARP, 61% of family care providers are women, with the typical caregiver being a 46-year-old female who is caring for one or both parents. Of the 39% of caregivers who are men, a majority are husbands of senior women, rather than sons. This gender imbalance in eldercare is one of the things we need to work to change.

I'm unusual in being a male caregiver. One of the goals of this book is to help people understand that men can--and should--become nurturers.

But my greatest wish is that this book will become a vital lifeline to everyone who, overnight, must face what first appears to be the devastating challenge of eldercare--a challenge that opens the way to unexpected growth and fulfillment for the caregiver. There is nothing to fear in eldercare. There is only joy, growth, and love.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Yggdrasil Books on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
The author was recently banned from Wikipedia. Robert Clark Young's username is "Qorty"

From Salon magazine: "Qworty has been "blocked indefinitely" from editing for violating Wikipedia's policies on how to write biographies of living persons, " harassment and (frankly) repeatedly lying to the community." An investigation is also currently under way to determine whether [Robert Clark] Young was guilty of operating multiple "sock puppets" -- pseudonymous personas designed specifically to hide Young's true identity."

Don't be surprised if the 40 "5-star" reviews here are all written by the author himself.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Greg on May 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After reading about the author's attack through Wikipedia against other author's I decided to read through some cheap, used copies of his works. Poorly written and predictable. At least I didn't waste a lot of money.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
ONE OF THE GUYS is a deeply symbolic, satirical novel that I don't think can be read just on the surface level. This is a book that's for people who are interested in the MEANING of a work of literature, not just the surface stuff like the plot or the "vulgarity" of certain recorded speech. If the Massachusetts reader thinks that the "greatness" of a work of literature depends on having a low incidence of 4-letter words, then she should go back to reading romance novels and not bother her head with a serious work ever again. This book is beautifully written, studded with stunning passages. Does it contain documentary descriptions of naval officers? Who cares? The Florida reader sounds like the kind of guy who would read "Animal Farm" and think it was about horses and pigs! He doesn't seem to understand that in the genre of satire, hyperbole and irony are used in order to make the author's points. I don't think the characters in this book are supposed to represent naval officers, I think the author is trying to say something about humanity and human organizations. But I don't think you'll understand all of that if you just read it on the surface level like some empty-headed Tom Clancy novel or something. Just my opinion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By tezo on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Or rather, collapses of it's own weight. The first pages are engaging, even if the premise is clearly fiction (I talked to a freind who spent over 15 years in the navy about some of the things in this novel and he said some of the things deptcted could never happen, or at least would be responded to very differently). But what really drags it down is the writing. Like I said, it starts out reasonably well, but then it just ... gets harder & harder to endure. I confess I gave up reading and did not finish.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
One of the Guys (1999), is somewhat reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski's Being There, brimming with comedy, poignancy, insight, surprises, shocks, and revelations.
One of the Guys is not for the prudish reader. The legendary profanity of the navy (or armed forces in general) is brought vividly to life throughout the novel. Profanity, colorful and creative, flows unstintingly from all-- Commanding Officers to lowly seamen. Body parts, body fluids and sex acts are all given prominent, lurid descriptions ala the frequently sexist, vulgar voices of men at sea. One of the Guys is probably not going to be read and discussed at too many refined literary social circles.
Equally distressing for some will be the view of the military presented in One of the Guys by Young. The men, officers and non, prey upon each other in sickening, dehumanizing fashion both verbally and physically, celebrate the fact that taxpayers are paying for their visits to sexual Disneylands at port, become the ugliest of "ugly Americans" ashore, shrug off miscalculations by the "boom boom boys" that lead to the accidental bombing of a Philippine village and the burning deaths of its inhabitants (saying a little additional foreign aid will cover it up), and resist with every inch of their bodies and souls any modernization of the military which includes political correctness or any kind of equity. It is a throwback to a sexist, racist, uncivil, world-unto-itself military in spite of the story being set well after the Gulf War.
Through it all, through the hell he observes and participates in both on the Harding and off, Miles begins to change.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jay Clempton on June 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to understand why this author has such a strong cult following. This is a novel of highly intricate symbolic meaning, which addresses a range of issues which I've never seen addressed all in one place, and certainly not in any other work of contemporary fiction. This is a desperately important book. Yes, it is a hilarious satire. Yes, it is a stunning picaresque. But it's much more than that. The writing is wiltingly beautiful, and demonstrates a versatility that is nothing short of amazing for a first novel. The various styles include comedy, farce, tragedy, discursive philosophy, hard-boiled narrative drive, and a very wickedly sly satire that whacks you in the face unexpectedly. Thematically, a mad and mythical United States Navy is used as a symbol for the corruption of all institutions, and our hero, Miles Derry--a character worthy of Jonathan Swift or Thomas Pynchon--is a thoroughly modern Everyman, symbolizing the struggle of the individual to conform to an increasingly absurd and witless society. ONE OF THE GUYS is a harrowing excursion into the greed, stupidity, loss of faith, and loss of values in Western culture at the turn of the millennium, and no doubt will be read by future generations as definitive for our time. I don't want to write a Ph.D. thesis here, but, beneath the surface of the racing plot, you will find intricate symbolism on just about every page. One of my favorite pages is 73, wherein the author deftly demolishes religious hypocrisy in the figure of Father Ogleby, who, while inveighing against sexual sins, unwittingly reveals his avidity for each of the other seven deadly sins. I was stunned when I first read that passage, and I have reread it many times, trying to determine how so much could be said in a couple of paragraphs.Read more ›
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