From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant (Viking, Jan.) is a bold novel—bold in its style, its thesis, and its story. While Alex Gilvarry’s narrative and characters are big and playful, the underlying premises are deadly serious. What happens to those falsely accused or mistakenly detained when the remedies of the American criminal justice system are unavailable to them? How does one prove one’s innocence when the system is set up to prove one’s guilt? How does an unknown fashion designer launch his work in New York City? Okay, that’s not serious but it was certainly interesting. Gilvarry skillfully navigates the space between black comedy and farce without delivering a polemic. His intriguing characters include the aspiring Filipino fashion designer Boyet Hernandez, his one-time Ivy League girlfriend, his financial backer–cum–arms dealer, his unfortunately named attorney Ben Laden, and a mysterious chronicler. Gilvarry gives us a debut novel that is delightful without being sophomoric. I loved reading the book and look forward to selling it in my store: it’s just our kind of book.
Volume 258 Issue 49 12/05/2011