Thursday, January 26, 2012

All Her Father's Guns

All Her Father's Guns by James Warner is a fairly brief novel told from the perspective of two different men, connected by a woman they both love:  the woman is Lyllyan, and the men are Cal, her father, and her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Reid.  Cal is a successful venture capitalist and a proud Libertarian with a military past.  He loves his guns probably about as much as he loves his daughter, or maybe a little more - it's difficult to say.  Reid is a British ex-pat trying (rather unsuccessfully) to find a job in academia.  He and Lyllyan don't have the most stable relationship, but as she is a formerly straight-edge post-punk college radio DJ, that is probably not altogether surprising.

In fact, unstable relationships are kind of all over the place in this book - Cal and his ex-wife Tabytha, a Republican congressional candidate with a penchant for prescription medication, are not exactly on the friendliest of terms, and things only get more rocky as Cal's story progresses.  Furthermore, to call Cal's relationship with his philosophical Romanian therapist, Viorela, "complicated" might be something of an understatement.  They make such an odd couple to me.

The central plot of All Her Father's Guns is basically this:  Cal has had it with paying so much in alimony to Tabytha, and goes well out of his way to do what he can to cause problems for her in her political campaign; he even has Reid helping him with some of the dirt-digging.  He wants to find enough to blackmail Tabytha, but he ends up getting much more than he bargained for, and the truths could potentially ruin both of them.  Things take an even more unexpected turn when Cal wrecks his car, sustaining injuries to his brain.  It is a pivotal moment, as none of their lives will be the same from then on.

And for me, that car crash is also where the story really picks up.  Up until that point, I wasn't too into this book.  When the author sent me an email, I read part of a sample chapter and accepted the request for a review - this isn't the type of book I normally read, but it sounded like an interesting story, so I accepted.  However, I found myself a little bored with it pretty quickly.  The politics had a lot to do with that - I had really hoped I wouldn't feel that way, as it's gotten great reviews and comments have been made about the book being funny - and while I did smirk or laugh at some moments, I think I just may have a different style of humor than what Warner writes.

Beyond that, I didn't connect with any of the characters - in all honesty, I kind of hated Cal up until the brain injury, and I wasn't too crazy about a lot of the others either, though if I had to pick any that I could say I disliked the least, it would be Reid and Boris.  Neither of them really stood out for me, though, so I don't know if I could say I actually liked them.  I did appreciate the subtle development of Reid's character throughout the story, and Cal seems different somewhat after his accident.  But for the most part, they all felt a little flat.  Tabytha, the ball-busting power divorcee.  Lyllyan, the rebellious college scenester.  Viorela and the rest of her and Reid's colleagues, a troupe of pretentious beatnik philosophy buffs.  Igloo the former government agent.  The there's Cal and his neighbors in the Prague Springs community.  They strike me as the type of paranoid post-apocalyptic survival nuts who might frequent such forums as Above Top Secret or Godlike Productions.

Some of the comments about the book on the back cover mention All Her Father's Guns as a satire - and I can definitely see that.  It just ended up not being for me.  Politics was never really my thing (and the book ended up focusing a lot more on politics than I guess I expected), I don't keep up with corporate structures, and I couldn't relate to or connect with any of the characters.  I wish I had been able to get into this book, as it did pique my interest when I received the offer of it, but I just wasn't able to get into it.

If you are someone who is fairly interested in things like politics and corporate or political philosophy, I think you may want to give this one a go, because it might be more up your alley than it was mine.  In fact, if you are someone who enjoys political fiction, and you think this sounds like an interesting story, I might be willing to pass along my copy to you, so feel free to send me an email or leave a comment here if you'd like!



Vox Nova (Numina Press)

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