Friday, June 7, 2013

First Hubby

1990, first edition, from Villard Books
Roy Blount, Jr.
First Hubby
Original price $18.95, purchase price $3.39
OK condition hardcover

The bio paragraph says Blount "is a novelist.  Now."  Yes, but the book often feels like a collection of Blount's essays loosely strung to a loose plot.  First-person narrator (in the form of a diary) Guy Fox (the book has lots of wordplay) is a humorist, so this isn't much of a stretch, but Blount did have to imagine what it would be like to be the "first male First Lady."  The book is set the summer of 1993, shortly after his wife Clementine has risen from V.P., the previous President having been killed by a random falling fish.  And, yes, in the real 1993 (and ever after) the actual First Spouse was accused of controlling the President.  Guy doesn't even want to be Second Hubby.  He just wants to go home.  But his wife likes running the country, and he's always tried to be supportive, except the time he ran out on her and regretted it.

The book isn't as funny or as insightful as Blount hopes, although of course I always find myself rooting for him.  That the novel works at all probably has more to do with that everyone in it-- even Qadhafi!-- comes across as likable.  I also like the way Blount portrays a long-term marriage, where the couple still don't quite communicate but they try, and they still love each other, especially in bed.  This is also the second novel in a row where the issue of an unplanned pregnancy comes up, and Blount deals with it with more complexity than Binchy does.  It's implied that Clementine (who's 43 and obviously has a lot to cope with) will go through with it, after initially planning an abortion, but either way, she and Guy will talk that, and everything else, out.

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