Synopses & Reviews
“This is a memoir: a package of boasts, false modesty, flawed memories, dropped names, outright errors, and embarrassing disclosures that I think are pretty neat–but may appall you, if youre squeamish or have an orderly turn of mind.”Robert Nylen
The thing is, Robert Nylen should have died several times in 1968. He was a goner in 2006, and 2007 as well, and yet he survived through a combination of dumb luck and sheer perseverance. Of course, as you read these words, hes already bit the dust. But lets not dwell on that.
A self-confessed reckless jerk, Nylen spent the last four years of his life grappling with Big Diseases (cancer, diabetes), an astonishing twelve broken bones, and ten surgeries. His lifetime total is twenty-four fractures, most of which resulted from a flagrant refusal to act his age–or anyones age, for that matter. And yet Guts is not a mere chronicle of injuries but a sharp and wry meditation on American Manhood.
Growing up in suburbia in the 50s and 60s, with a father who had worked on the atom bomb, Nylen was an immature kid who was always eager for attention. In college he became a slovenly, hard-partying fraternity brother who barely graduated. Then came the realization that he was going to have to go to Vietnam. A dramatic tour of duty came to an abrupt end with multiple wounds, leading him to grow up fast. It was then that he started the real risky business: business itself. Some ventures succeeded and some failed. He exercised feverishly and often displayed a complete lack of common sense. And then he got sick, inevitably, with colon cancer.
Hilarious, moving, and riveting, this is the life of a tough guy as seen through the scope of a national obsession with toughness. Whether he was facing Viet Cong as a platoon leader in Vietnam or doing battle with venture capitalists at home, Nylen never backed down from a good fight–and he had the many scars to prove it. In Guts, Robert Nylen writes with humor and precision about the travails–and glory–of manhood.
"Vietnam vet, cofounder of New England Monthly and a media consultant, Nylen, who died last year, shares with punchy humor and tremendous grace his tough approach to taking risks and staring down exacting bosses as well as cancer. Cherishing such stoical role models as Don Quixote and Ulysses S. Grant (as well as his own father, who spent his prime years as a DuPont executive before a traumatic fall altered his life permanently), Nylen celebrates America's admiration with gutsiness, and his own lifetime attempts (frequently foolish) to make the 'Cool Guys Hall of Fame.' The bulk of this memoir is Nylen's facetious though moving account of his stint as an infantry officer in Vietnam in 1968, and the men he loved and lost the ghastly experience, he assures readers, was never accurately depicted in popular movies. Shell-shocked, married after release from the army, 'simulating a normal person' and appearing unemployable, he began his accidental career as a media ad salesman starting at Look magazine, dealing with tough bosses like Bill Dunn at U.S. News and World Report and Mike Levy at Texas Monthly before embarking on his own. Diagnosed with colorectal cancer stage III when he was 60, he endured treatments, surgeries, pain and frequent accidents of his own making, but preserves his cheerful, frank, optimistic and ever competitive spirit in the face of mortal adversity. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Hilarious and moving, "Guts" is a sharp and wry meditation on American manhood. Nylen, a self-confessed reckless jerk, never backs down from a good fight--and he has the scars to prove it.
About the Author
Robert Nylen was a media consultant, entrepreneur, publisher, writer, and part-time college professor. Nylen co-founded New England Monthly magazine and Beliefnet.com. He also wrote for Look magazine, was an ad manager for U.S. News & World Report, and was vice president and associate publisher for Texas Monthly. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Fortune, American Lawyer, American Benefactor, Folio, Adweek, and many other newspapers and magazines. In Vietnam, he earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with V Device, and other awards. He died in December 2008.