“The best literary present . . . has a delicate sweetness that shows through at just the right moments.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World
Echoing a narrative line that includes Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller, William Giraldi’s Busy Monsters has been hailed as one of the most exciting fiction debuts in years. Penned with a linguistic bravado that explores the diaphanous line between fiction and fact, this “very funny, very inventive début novel” (The New Yorker) has at last revived the great American picaresque tradition.
In his riotous debut novel up there with, say, James Wilcox's Modern Baptists Giraldi tells the story of Charles Homar, a jilted fianc who embarks on a hilariously ill-advised odyssey to win back his beloved. Charles is a "memoirist of mediocre fame" whose engagement to the lovely Gillian falls apart when she takes off with oceanographer Jacob Jacobi. After a short jail sentence for ineptly shooting up Jacobi's boat, Charles decides that the only way to win back Gillian is to prove his manhood to her. He sets off on a cross-country odyssey: searching for Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest with a Jewish African-American hunter; looking for UFOs with an ex-girlfriend in Seattle who claims to have been abducted by aliens; seeking advice from an astronomer in Boulder, Colo., who has his own calamitous love life to deal with; and getting fit with the aid of a New Jersey bodybuilder and two Chinese prostitutes before heading back to Boston for a final reckoning. Charles's journey filled with offbeat characters, seen through a perfectly skewed worldview, and related in an idiosyncratic voice might remind readers of the one taken by the equally wrong-headed Ray Midge in Charles Portis's comic masterpiece, The Dog of the South.