One of the Guys  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

One of the Guys is an earnestly satirical and picaresque novel by Robert Clark Young, published in 1999, concerning the fantastical adventures of a man posing as a chaplain on a U.S. Navy ship whose crew goes berserk and terrorizes a number of ports in the Far East before the hopelessly alcoholic, sexed-up crew turns on itself in a paroxysm of crossing the line mania, just as the gods are about to intervene by destroying the Subic Bay Naval Base through causing Mount Pinatubo to blow up.

Literary significance and criticism

Though predominantly a satire, the book also works on levels of symbolism and allegory. The hero, Miles Derry, a recovering alcoholic who is attempting to improve his destitute condition by impersonating a gay Methodist chaplain, is an existential and self-actualizing figure who represents the American Dream of bettering oneself, no matter how ludicrous the means or the results. While the narrative tone manages to be humorous and realistic at the same time, Derry's journey itself can be said to be surreal as he strives to survive aboard a Navy ship that symbolizes the corruption of American institutions. In this sense, he is the heir to Tom Jones and Barry Lyndon, and one of the few modern representations of the picaresque hero, whose roguishness, low birth, and survival by wits alone serve as ironic counterpoint to the real targets of the satire, the corrupt society and institutional abuses symbolized by the whirl of madness around him.

Despite the book's multiple layers, many critics and readers have enjoyed it on the level of a tall tale. Critic Josip Novakovich, who compared One of the Guys to A Confederacy of Dunces, has said, "If you read the book in public, you will laugh so much and go through so many facial expressions that you'll run the risk of having the police called to check you out."

After the initial publication of One of the Guys by HarperCollins in 1999, the book was held before the U.S. Congress as obscene by the American Family Association.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "One of the Guys" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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