I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
What surprised me most about this brief novel is how emotionally invested I became in the unnamed narrator. Fabre creates a man who describes for us his everyday existence as a fifty-four year old man, living in Paris, divorced for 15 years, with a grown son. He works a lot to pass the time and spends most nights alone in his small apartment. He has two close friends he sees on a regular basis and has had a few casual relationships with women he has met on dating websites. He continually and sadly says to himself throughout the first part of the narrative, “There are no second acts.”
He likes to reminisce about his past life and speaks about the anger he had for his ex-wife after she divorces him; their separation is so nasty that they haven’t stepped foot in the same room or spoken for 5 years. But now that so much time has passed, he begins to wonder why he was ever so angry. The best thing in his life that has come out of his marriage is his son Benjamin with whom he has a close, supportive and touching relationship.
The narrator’s two close friends serve as an interesting contrast to his own life. His friend Jean, with whom he has just reconnected after many years, has been out of work and on welfare for years and he suffers from long bouts of depression. Although the narrator is oftentimes lonely, his life is never as sad or miserable as Jean’s. Marc Andre is the narrator’s other friend who is also divorced, but is happily remarried and has a large blended family. The narrator’s relationship with Marco proves that as we get older, it is not the number of friends that becomes so important to us, but the depth of the relationships with the few people we keep close.
About halfway through the book, the narrator meets a woman online named Marie and it is hard to tell if he really cares about her or if she just fills up some of his lonely hours. But as the story goes on, he subtly stops saying “There is no second act.” He seems to really turn a corner in his life and be able to declare that good things still can happen to “guys like me.”
GUYS LIKE ME is a fast and emotional must-read; it will keep you wondering if F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong and that second acts are possible for all of us.
About The Author:
Dominique Fabre, born in 1960, writes about people living on society’s margins. He is a lifelong resident of Paris. His previous novel, The Waitress Was New, has also been translated into English.
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