Readers approaching Roy Blount’s high concept novel, FIRST HUBBY, may wonder if the popular Southern essayist, whose humorous short works have pleased the disparate audiences of ORGANIC GARDENING, ROLLING STONE, TV GUIDE, and the NEW YORK TIMES, can meet the sustained artistic demands of the novel form. Readers who have finished the book may still have the same question.
FIRST HUBBY begins at a literal dead run. Clementine Searcy, eventual President of the United States, is running naked down the streets of Dingler College just ahead of police dogs, when she is rescued by Guy Fox, reporter for the BEACON. There begins a love affair which takes Clementine and Guy through the Civil Rights movement, the women’s movement, and the third party movement, all the way to the Great Wall of China and the presidency.
The eccentric plot of FIRST HUBBY is clever skeleton which Blount uses to flesh out his ideas about politics, American humor, the institution of marriage, Ronald Reagan, love, Qaddafi, sex, race relations, child abuse, the military/industrial complex, and the difficulties faced by American’s first ladies throughout history. Readers expecting a novel in the grand old tradition of Tolstoy or Henry James will not only be disappointed but probably bewildered as well. But readers who have grown up on the goofy, quasi-serious novels of Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut will delight in Blount’s endless digressions, his puns and his punditry.