Intriguing and Spirited,
By A Customer
This review is from: One of the Guys (Hardcover)
One of the Guys (1999), is somewhat reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski's Being There, brimming with comedy, poignancy, insight, surprises, shocks, and revelations.
One of the Guys is not for the prudish reader. The legendary profanity of the navy (or armed forces in general) is brought vividly to life throughout the novel. Profanity, colorful and creative, flows unstintingly from all-- Commanding Officers to lowly seamen. Body parts, body fluids and sex acts are all given prominent, lurid descriptions ala the frequently sexist, vulgar voices of men at sea. One of the Guys is probably not going to be read and discussed at too many refined literary social circles.
Equally distressing for some will be the view of the military presented in One of the Guys by Young. The men, officers and non, prey upon each other in sickening, dehumanizing fashion both verbally and physically, celebrate the fact that taxpayers are paying for their visits to sexual Disneylands at port, become the ugliest of "ugly Americans" ashore, shrug off miscalculations by the "boom boom boys" that lead to the accidental bombing of a Philippine village and the burning deaths of its inhabitants (saying a little additional foreign aid will cover it up), and resist with every inch of their bodies and souls any modernization of the military which includes political correctness or any kind of equity. It is a throwback to a sexist, racist, uncivil, world-unto-itself military in spite of the story being set well after the Gulf War.
Through it all, through the hell he observes and participates in both on the Harding and off, Miles begins to change. Accidents he makes which turn out for the good, deeds he commits without thinking, and lots of introspection all lead to a new man-- a man discovering himself for the first time, a man who dedicates himself to being more the old Miles Derry was ever capable of being, more than the chaplain whose identity he stole was, more than one of the guys. It is an awesome evolution to witness with an intriguing ending and an impressive first novel well worth the reading.