Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny

Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny by Garrison Keillor
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bookshelves: humor, reviewed
Recommended to Nancy by: a library display
Recommended for: Garrison Keillor fans and readers who like parodies

Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny
By Garrison Keillor

The way I see it, either you like Garrison Keillor or you don’t. If you are a fan, you will like this book, as it is vintage Keillor, or at least vintage Keillor in the guise of alter-ego Guy Noir, a wise-cracking gumshoe from the days of Dragnet and The Shadow, transplanted to contemporary Minneapolis/St. Paul. I liked the book better than I like the Guy Noir radio bits on A Prairie Home Companion; I thought it was funnier. Keillor begins, in Guy’s voice:

"Call me a cynic, but I maintain that nothing can clarify a man’s thinking quite like looking down the barrel of a revolver in the hand of a man who is irked with you and considering homicide as a solution to his problem. This has happened to me from time to time in my so-called career as a private eye in St. Paul, Minnesota, and each occurrence promoted clear thinking, inconvenient though it was at the time. Christians try to find clarity through prayer, but you don’t really know what prayer is until you meet someone who’s prepared to shoot you."

Good opening, I think, especially as the man holding the gun is eighty-two and suffering from mild senile dementia and hemorrhoids. The rest of the story rollicks on from there, with Guy not exactly sprinting (he’s sixty-five) from one adventure to another, but at least moving speedily, always encumbered in his escapes by his attraction to “bombshells” like Naomi Fallopian, ex-stripper and professor of women’s studies (Keillor has great fun with that one) who lead him on (and on) only to drop him with a thud.

Although Keillor gleefully skewers various American institutions - social media, extended adolescence, dieting, celebrity book tours, corporate greed, the courts - in the course of the book, I wouldn’t suggest that the novel is a mere skeleton for fleshing out Keillor’s grievances. It has a plot, silly as it is, and it offers a great opportunity to relish the author’s writing. For instance, his metaphors:

• “The phone jingled like a Salvation Army Santa Claus.”
• “a voice like corn oil”
• “As she walked, her golden wool gown undulated on her womanly hips like curtains in a light breeze. I wanted to open the curtains and let the sun shine.”
• “like a prime rib at a piranha picnic”
• “the elevator’s. . .ancient chains clanking in the shaft above like Marley’s ghost.”
• “He was draped in a blue seersucker suit, like a toad in gift wrap”

In fact, the metaphors are as thick as a carpet of army ants on a wildebeast (coming up with that metaphor reminded me of what a nimble writer Keillor is), and a lot more fun. Fun, fun, fun is what this book is all about, an entertaining read by a wonderful writer - and what’s wrong with that?

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 15, 2012 – Finished Reading
December 16, 2012 – Shelved
December 16, 2012 – Shelved as: humor
January 4, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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