Pete Beatty is a future boss at The Classical and P&P’s resident Jim Thome scholar.
Some people will demur but “Guert Affenlight” is a truly excellent ridiculous name for a fictional character. “Guert Affenlight” is exactly the kind of name that college presidents/the over-accomplished sometimes are burdened with. I actually have a theory that the book publishing world (where I work), being a demimonde with a lot of unreconstructed WASPs and other old-line elites, has a disproportionate share of ridiculous names. I actually keep an Evernote file of “NARP” (Not A Real Person) names, which Guert Affenlight would be right at home in.
But beyond his pitch-perfect fake name, I’m not sure what to make of President Affenlight, who just strolled in and gayed (I mean that in a judgment-free way) everything up (and anyway, this novel is homoerotic from the copyright page onward– Mike Schwartz angrily whispers the word “pussy” at Henry, who ignores it! Symbolism! I solved literature!). I was just getting comfortable with this novel turning into a male gay-supremacist version of I Am Charlotte Simmons (fuck you guys for making fun of me, I liked that book) about the lower-middle-class souls-in-crisis of Schwartz and Skrimshander, and now I have to deal with Guert, who is a real adult with problems more complex than a rare throwing error or law school admissions. I’m rambling, but so far so good, right? I blazed through pages 1 through 117 in what felt like an hour. Good job everyone, especially the author.