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Bob Stevenson
     

Bob Stevenson

by Richard Wiley
 

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“A witty, roller-coaster ride of uncertain identity set against the gritty certainties of New York City. In compelling, unadorned prose, Richard Wiley gives us a bewitching and ultimately moving tale.” —Caryl Phillips, author of A Distant Shore and The Lost Child

Dr. Ruby Okada meets a charming man with a Scottish accent in

Overview

“A witty, roller-coaster ride of uncertain identity set against the gritty certainties of New York City. In compelling, unadorned prose, Richard Wiley gives us a bewitching and ultimately moving tale.” —Caryl Phillips, author of A Distant Shore and The Lost Child

Dr. Ruby Okada meets a charming man with a Scottish accent in the elevator of her psychiatric hospital. Unaware that he is an escaping patient, she falls under his spell, and her life and his are changed forever by the time they get to the street.

Who is the mysterious man? Is he Archie B. Billingsly, suffering from dissociative identity disorder and subject to brilliant flights of fancy and bizarre, violent fits? Or is he the reincarnation of Robert Louis Stevenson, back to haunt New York as Long John Silver and Mr. Edward Hyde? Her career compromised, Ruby soon learns that her future and that of her unborn child depend on finding the key to his identity.

With compelling psychological descriptions and terrifying, ineffable transformations, Bob Stevenson is an ingenious tale featuring a quirky cast of characters drawn together by mutual fascination, need, and finally, love.

Richard Wiley is the author of eight novels including Soldiers in Hiding, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and Ahmed’s Revenge, winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award. Professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he divides his time between Los Angeles, California and Tacoma, Washington.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/22/2016
It is a truism that writers live on through their works, but Wiley’s (Soldiers in Hiding) clever latest considers the strange case of a classic author reanimated by other means. Ruby Okada is a psychiatrist swept off her feet by “Bob,” an enigmatic stranger spouting orotund phrases in a Scottish brogue. Their brief affair concludes when she finally discovers that her lover is really Archie Billingsly, a psychiatric patient prone to fugue states in which he convincingly takes on the identities of Robert Louis Stevenson and his most famous creation, Henry Hyde, among others. Mortified that she has “fallen so deeply in love with a lie and a ghost,” and pregnant with Bob/Archie’s child, Ruby delves into the curious case of a man as “sick and fractured” as Dr. Jekyll. Wiley skillfully balances the psychological explanations for Archie’s strange behavior with the more fanciful notion that he has been possessed by Stevenson’s spirit, one of those “metaphysical rovers” seeking out corporeal forms. It’s an elegant conceit around which to craft a tale about the ambiguities of character, but the novel slackens considerably in the second half. Moreover, the supporting characters don’t manage to bewitch the reader as completely as the great Scotsman does through Archie. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Literary Hub “Great Booksellers Fall Preview” selection

“Wiley takes Treasure Island off the dusty shelf of the late 19th century and translates its transgressive pirate allure in daring and illuminating ways for 21st-century readers.” —Peace Corps Worldwide

“Through a clever use of dissociative identity disorder, [Bob Stevenson] provides an exploration of the workings of the human mind, its pathology, and its machination to make up stories. . . . This novel of identities within identities, selves within selves ends on a note of the unknowns and uncertainties of life. The question of identity and the self prevails as the key matter in the novel, whether based on a figment of a pathological mind or on a membership to a genealogy.” —MedHum Fiction | Daily Dose: Adventures at the Intersection of Medicine and Literature

“Haunted—in a good way—by the ghost of Robert Louis Stevenson. . . . A romantic comedy with just enough of a philosophical edge.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Clever. . . . Wiley skillfully balances the psychological explanations for Archie’s strange behavior with the more fanciful notion that he has been possessed by Stevenson’s spirit, one of those ‘metaphysical rovers’ seeking out corporeal forms. It’s an elegant conceit around which to craft a tale about the ambiguities of character.” —Publishers Weekly

“A witty, roller-coaster ride of uncertain identity set against the gritty certainties of New York City. In compelling, unadorned prose, Richard Wiley gives us a bewitching and ultimately moving tale.” —Caryl Phillips, author of A Distant Shore and The Lost Child

Kirkus Reviews
2016-07-20
This slight, sweet novel is haunted—in a good way—by the ghost of Robert Louis Stevenson.Wiley (The Book of Important Moments, 2013, etc.) sets the novel in a comfortable small-town version of Manhattan, where a few characters know each other intimately. Chief among them is psychiatrist Ruby Okada, who gets in trouble in the first three pages because she doesn’t realize the charming man she meets as she’s leaving the clinic where she works is one of the patients there. By the fourth page, it’s seven months later and she’s pregnant, resigning her job because of her slip-up, and taking up residence with her cat, Guido, in the spacious Greenwich Village home of Archie B. Billingsly, who's given the house to her while he prowls around New York alternately assuming the identities of Stevenson and a good many of the characters from his novels. Ruby, who is enamored of Bob Stevenson, is less taken by Long John Silver and the confusing Henry Hyde, who slips between the behaviors of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She’s supported in her quest to bring Archie to some sort of stable state and give birth to his child by her father, an avant-garde artist from Tacoma; the British lawyer Billingsly has chosen because he shares a name with one of Stevenson’s characters; her rambunctious former colleague Bette; and Billingsly’s driver, Gerard. Gerard, who has Down syndrome, comes uncomfortably close to being a stereotypical wise fool: he’s quick with an unintentionally astute solution for every problem. A number of back-story suicides darken the plot without detracting from its essential optimism. A romantic comedy with just enough of a philosophical edge.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781942658160
Publisher:
Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date:
10/11/2016
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
877,694
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x (d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Richard Wiley is the author of eight novels including Bob Stevenson (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press), Soldiers in Hiding, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and Ahmed’s Revenge, winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award. Professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he divides his time between Los Angeles, California and Tacoma, Washington.

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