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All Her Father's Guns Paperback – January 7, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
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"Witty, stylish, and smart. Entertaining as hell." --Mark Sarvas, author of Harry, Revised
"All her Father's Guns had me laughing out loud. It's a wonder that a wit so dry can keep topping its own hilarious invention, page after page. And yet, for all the satirical surrealism of this Englishman's portrait of America, Warner's characters draw you in: they start to breathe, they make you care, and you end up feeling strangely moved. This is truly a distinctive achievement." --Tamim Ansary, author of West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story and The Widow's Husband
"James Warner has revived the fine art of the farce, of using the absurd to reveal deep, disturbing truths. In this novel he takes us on a wild romp through Silicon Valley, Bezerkeley, Arizona, and Mexico, with pit stops in academia, politics, religion, love, and survivalism. The perfect blend of intelligence and humor makes All Her Father's Guns a blast to read." --Frances Lefkowitz, author of To Have Not
About the Author
James Warner comes from England and lives in San Francisco. His short fiction has appeared in many literary magazines.
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James Warner's novel starts out in hot pursuit of this dreary ritual. There are a few token gags about jargon: "Cindy argued the timetable was pervaded by structural sexism--meaning that there were more male than female speakers." Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan inspire their requisite share of quips similar to all the Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan jokes you've almost certainly read before. And, since our hero is a newly unemployed English grad, we get the predictable griping poorly disguised as wit: "I'd heard the usual stories about PhDs who were now working as circus geeks, or making a living as subjects for experimental drug tests. Lyllyan had suggested I audition for a role as a male stripper." I nearly set the book aside, thinking that not enough time had passed yet to make this stuff even seem retro.
But I'm glad I stayed with it because once Warner gets all that humbug out of the way in the first few dozen pages, he settles down and turns out a surprisingly gripping farce. It's as if his novel leaves Kansas for Oz: he trades in the darts thrown at academia for a shotgun--no, a rocket launcher aimed at all of American society: libertarianism, liberalism, politics, religion, campaigns, militias, immigration, the mass media, and more. The star of the novel turns out not to be the lost-at-sea English major but his girlfriend's father, a right-wing financier with a passion for AK-47s and survivalist camps who will do virtually anything to insure that his vapidly airbrushed and noxiously conservative ex-wife doesn't win her race for a Congressional seat--even if it means getting the Democratic candidate elected. I can't even begin to summarize the plot, but (even though it all hangs together--barely) the coherence of the storyline matters little in this madcap adventure that involves tasers, blackmail, abduction, and a mysterious terrorist operation known simply as FNRUGZPALII.
Warner's humor works impressively well on the wider canvas of American life--certainly better than within the circumscribed world of departmental meetings and doctoral theses. And even more awesome than his sociopolitical barbs are his descriptions of a former marriage gone horribly, magnificently, hysterically wrong. Here's hoping his departure from the academy into the unreality of the real world is permanent.
This story is an unmitigated farce, the kind that only the most intensely clever writers can create. Warner takes his exquisitely drawn parodies of stereotypes and tosses together a salad of an adventure that tinkers with philosophy, academia, gun control, the machinations of politics, irreverent pairings of disparate characters, right to life issues, abortion, and criminal investigation techniques, the extremes of political right wing AND left wing factions, and in the end provides a mirror for us all to do some serious self-examination - in addition to laughing so hard that reading a page becomes almost unfeasible. The real factor of success of this book is that it can be so rich in face and parody and still support a story line that is strong enough to hold our attention without the embroidery of the writer' comedic talents. James Warner is a bright new voice in contemporary literature, so refreshing that the reader will likely be passing this novel along to friends to spread the wealth! Grady Harp, September 11
Most recent customer reviews
All Her Father's Guns alternately tells the stories of Cal Lyte, a gun enthusiast, and Reid Seyton,...Read more