A COMPELLING AND IRREVERENT LITERARY DEBUT BY A FORMER ADVERTISING
DICK CHENEY SHOT ME IN THE FACE: And Other Tales Of Men In Pain (Unsolicited Press | February 17, 2016) is an enthralling story collection by Timothy O’Leary. Unexpected, humorous, sometimes dark, and surprisingly heartfelt, here are tales that explore the secret life of men as they pass into adulthood, middle age, and old age confronting lust, pain, guilt, bewilderment, and mortality. O’Leary has won numerous literary awards for his stories and his title story was a finalist for the Mark Twain Award for Humor Writing.
You’ve probably heard about the man who Dick Cheney shot in the face, but what if he wasn’t the only victim? In the title story of the collection, we meet Henry who gets shot in the face by Dick Cheney and is blinded in one eye. It’s not anger that overcomes Henry, but a sense of guilt for not warning the next victim. In this unique and funny story O’Leary explores the shame that comes from pride, the anxiety of helplessness, and whether men of a certain age can have deep friendships with other men. While a fictional character tells this story, all the facts about Cheney are true.
Ian Davis is an obsessive-compulsive loner and a recovering alcoholic. But when a homeless man––who closely resembles the actor Gary Busey––starts harassing him on his way to work, he resorts to old habits to ease his anxiety and loneliness. Ian’s bad habits lead to a deadly confrontation and what he thinks is self- defense is quickly deemed murder. Before Ian has even been arrested, a video of the confrontation surfaces on the Internet. In “Homeless Gary Busey,” the reader is forced to question the power of perception, technology turning the public into judge and jury, and how a single event or misunderstanding can take someone from relative comfort to the street.
Kenny, a former sitcom star, is a veteran comedian who quickly realizes his act doesn’t hold up against a savvy millennial comic named Donny, in “Hecklers.” In a desperate attempt to level the playing field, Kenny tries to bond with Donny by assisting in vandalizing a patron’s car in the comedy club’s parking lot. But unbeknownst to Kenny he was being videotaped for Donny’s YouTube channel. The video suddenly goes viral and Kenny quickly finds out that overnight success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In eighteen stories we also meet: a distraught husband who experiences heartbreak and salvation after his wife dies in a car accident caused by a texting teenager; a successful man who returns to his hometown and finds his first love stacking jars at a local Costco; a sheriff in a Western town circa early 1900s confronts a pedophile and his own past abuse; an Iraq war veteran turned bodyguard who encounters the biggest threat of his life in a Las Vegas Nightclub; a successful attorney who abandons his legal career to play the iPad guitar.
While DICK CHENEY SHOT ME IN THE FACE is eclectic in range, O’Leary has a knack for telling stories that all have immediacy and purpose. His thirty-year career creating award-winning ads has endowed him with an entertaining style, an ear for dialogue, and the ability to boil down larger issue with dexterity. In spare, at times satirical, and illuminating prose, his stories delve into far ranging issues from the homelessness crisis, to the positive and negative impact of technology, to Baby Boomers trying to navigate an increasingly complex world turned upside down by the digitization of communication and business. Fans of Tom Perotta, BJ Novak, and Carl Hiaasen will enjoy this stunning debut from an interesting and immensely talented new writer.
Dee Dee De Bartlo/Moshe Schulman
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