“It was both fascinating and disturbing to read Jowita Bydlowska’s debut novel, Guy, during the same week news broke of Donald Trump’s 2005 comments describing how he likes to treat (or rather, sexually assault) women. As the recorded revelation sparked a widespread discussion about what men really say about women behind closed doors, and while Trump defenders misguidedly tried to justify his vile remarks as nothing more than “locker room talk,” I was spending time inside the head of Bydlowska’s eponymous and misogynist lead character.” – Globe and Mail, October 2016
After the success of her addiction memoir, Drunk Mom (Doubleday Canada, 2013), Bydlowska’s debut novel, Guy (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016), is a departure in topic but not in style. The pared down prose is just as biting, the subject matter is dark yet humorous, and the antagonistic protagonist distressingly real.
The story is told from the perspective of a misogynist named Guy who has a dog named Dog. Guy and Dog stroll the waterfront outside his beach house while he rates the women around him on a scale of 1 to 10 and treats (or mistreats) them accordingly. But it isn’t beautiful women Guy enjoys singling out as conquests; it’s ‘plain girls’, the ones who will worship him long after he’s finished with them.
There’s something uncomfortable about reading Guy. But then again, that seems to be the point Bydlowska is making; you should be uncomfortable. The normalization of “locker room talk” is uncomfortable. The societal truths she so deftly reveals are uncomfortable. The novel sweeps you along in Guy’s fitness-obsessed, appearance-fixated life until the twist ending.
Jowita will be reading at “Shame: A Fictional Exploration” as part of the Off the Page Festival on November 5th, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. at 5605 Ave du Gaspe, #106. For event info, click here.