"You are Hamilton Ashe. Everyone calls you Ham. Everyone, except for your boss, who calls you Salami. And except for your girlfriend, who can't pronounce your name. The same girlfriend who tells everyone she's your wife. Even though you never asked her to marry you. Even though you never got a marriage license. Even though you never had a wedding ceremony. The same girlfriend who has decided to become a country-western singer. The same girlfriend who writes songs about a runaway dog. A runaway dog that returns, only its ear is missing. Why does she keep singing that song? Why does she keep singing that ridiculous song? Why? WHY? Maybe today will be a little bit less of a struggle. Maybe. "
Typical sophomore slump issues plague Kun's muddled [third] 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.
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M P Publishing
June 14, 2004
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