Publishers WeeklyTypical sophomore slump issues plague Kun's muddled second novel, an underplotted affair that chronicles a man's breakup with his flighty girlfriend. Hamilton Ashe is the sweet but befuddled narrator, a tailor's assistant in Decatur, Ga., whose domestic life takes a sudden turn for the worse when his girlfriend, Ren e-who has been with Ashe for so long that she refers to herself as his wife-loses her hospital job. A period of reassessment follows for Ren e, who begins learning the guitar and tries to fulfill her heretofore hidden dream of becoming a country music star. It's funny to watch Ashe panic as he goes from erstwhile "husband" to soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, all the while recalling his similarly ill-fated former marriage. Kun captures the couple's changing dynamic in a series of sweet, winning scenes and paints a comic portrait of the dysfunctional tailor's shop where Ashe works. But aside from the impending breakup, the absence of plot movement becomes increasingly noticeable as the story progresses, and the novel ends on a sour note when Kun builds his climax around a confusing, underdeveloped murder subplot involving Ashe's ex-wife. Kun shows much of the same comic flair and solid character writing that made The Locklear Letters a surprise winner last year, but he'll need to significantly upgrade his storytelling next time to get back on track. Agent, Sandra Bond. (June 15) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library JournalIn his third novel (after A Thousand Benjamins and The Locklear Letters), Kun tells a relationship story from a divorced man's perspective. Though frustratingly passive and unambitious, Hamilton "Ham" Ashe is a likable and witty protagonist. When his live-in girlfriend, Renee, begins claiming that they are married, Ham declares emphatically and repeatedly that they are not. However, he supports her ambitions to be a country singer, despite her lack of talent and income. The book loses momentum when Ham's passive-aggressive musings on the financial burden of Renee's ambitions, as well as his discomfort with her new friends and interests, go on too long. And a subplot involving Ham's crush on a former co-worker could have been dropped to make this bittersweet romantic comedy more compact. There is an emotional payoff at the end-including a "dark secret"-but it takes too long to get there. Still, many readers will enjoy Kun's clever prose and running gags (e.g., using euphemisms for profanity) and be drawn to the characters, particularly Ham. For larger collections.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsLoser tailor seeks woman willing to subjugate herself and deal with his multitude of issues. In his last outing (The Locklear Letters, 2003), Kun seemed to have an unerring eye for those lost men of the world who pine away for their perfect fantasy women. In this sharper and edgier riff on a similar type, he takes us into the world of Hamilton "Ham" Ashe. Hailing from a small Georgia town, Ham now works as a tailor in Atlanta (having a little boating knowledge, he answered a misspelled ad looking for a "sailor" but got hired anyway), while his live-in girlfriend, Renee, who recently lost her job at a hospital, does nothing. The bulk of the story is a nonstop rant by Ham against Renee and the horrors she inflicts upon him, mostly of the monetary variety. Deciding that she doesn't want to go back to work, Renee announces her desire to become a country-and-western singer, necessitating the purchase of a guitar, guitar lessons, and some really awful outfits to accompany her horrible songs. Ham takes it all in silent resentment, occasionally flashing back to memories of his ex-wife Shellie, who hailed from the same small town as he. Other memories, of a kid from Ham's high school who was brutally murdered, also come floating back to prove a crucial development in the story (it's not what readers might think-this doesn't turn into a crime novel-but it's shocking nonetheless). For a time, Ham's rantings are amusing as Renee goes from one ridiculous type of selfish behavior to another, but as we see more of Ham's dead-end life, the more sympathetic she becomes. Things at first seem suffused with the sour taste of misogyny, like a standup comic going on endlessly about his crazy girlfriend, butultimately Kun proves an abler writer than that. An endearing, bittersweet romance that reads like a comedy. Agent: Sandra Bond/Bond Literary Agency
- MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)
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My Wife and My Dead Wife based on 1 ratings. 5 reviews.
I have now read three books from this author. Three completely different books. Three excellent reads. Keep bringing them on, Mr. Kun!
My Wife and My Dead Wife is the funniest book of 2004, at least so far. The narrator has an unusual, distinctive voice that propels the book forward. He's a bit of a sad sack, but a funny one -- is there such a thing as a 'funny sack'? I just loved him and I loved this book!
I've just read the galley for Mike Kun's new novel, My Wife and My Dead Wife. Putting aside a few typos, which hopefully will be corrected before it is printed in final, it is yet another comic masterpiece from the author of The Locklear Letters, last year's sadly overlooked gem. Kun's characters are always funny, yet ring true at the same time. He can make you laugh out loud one minute, then feel a crashing wave of sadness the next, and somehow make it all fit together.