Reviews in 200 Words

A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living by Michael Dahlie

In Fiction, Novel on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The cold fact is that we do judge a book by its cover. We judge a man by his clothes. We judge a meal by its server. We’re generally cruel and simple and obvious. Good for us. At first, it seems like this title is all wrong—ridiculous—but then, fuck it. It ends up being kind of hilarious and ironic. Demographics and reactions and subtle assumptions. It fits. Arthur Camden is like that friend you’ve had forever, who seems so utterly different from you, and then every once in a while, exactly the same. It’s hard to classify this story—the premise almost seems like comedy: import/export business collapses, wife of 32-years leaves for her teenaged crush. But there’s a lot going on here. Big issues like class and status are dealt with in a really digestible and personal way. There is no guide, obviously—that’s not a riddle—and because of that, we’re free to see the humanity in the fact that we’re all basically the same. Who would any man be without doubt? Who would any man be without going through the steps of self-actualization and coming out with no clear answers, but a life, lived.

-Micah Ling

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