Buddy Hayes is an ugly, defiant little man, a would-be Don Juan trapped in Quasimodo’s body. He lives with his mother and ailing grandfather in a decaying, post-industrial city. The mother is Emily Post with a color changing and a mood-indicating harelip scar. The grandfather is a one-eyed, double amputee, who spends his days happily dangling in a hydraulic patient lift. Their life is a working-class hallucination of blueblood extravagance. They luxuriate over gourmet meals and perform dramatic readings, complete with costumes and prop weaponry. At night, Buddy slips away for covert liaisons with women he meets on the internet. “I’m a connoisseur of the unwanted; a sommelier of deformity; a coveter of the unloved. I am forever chased by the shadow of my ugliness. In darkness, no shadow remains, and it’s all diamonds.”
Buddy is also at war with his neighbor, a “slum empress,” and landlord to nearly all of 1st Street. There’s the question of a stolen artifact. This mysterious item once belonged to Buddy’s family and is now in the hated neighbor’s possession. There are outrageous acts of casual sex. There’s a love interest, an attractive librarian, who tempts Buddy with desires for the “normal” kind of love he knows he cannot have. So it goes, until Buddy’s mother calls a service to assist with the grandfather’s care. They send Terrance: a tall, impossibly handsome black man, a lapsed Broadway performer, virtuoso singer, and banjo player. Naturally, Buddy and Terrance strike up an unlikely friendship that drives Yetto’s surreal, tawdry, and poignant, comedy of errors on acid.
“This is the best book I’ve read in years, and it’s also the first time in years that a book has made me laugh, which I did many times while reading this comedic tour de force. Buddy Hayes, the scabrous hero and narrator of this slapstick, ingenious tale, may be small in stature for a full-grown man (4’9” with a crooked, twisted spine), but he’s a giant of a creation, an Ignatius J. Reilly for the 21st Century, and Nick Yetto is a brilliant new writer, who seems to have arrived on planet literature fully-formed, like a gift from the gods. As I read this book, I didn’t want to leave the world and family that Yetto had created; I didn’t want Buddy to stop talking to me and telling me his story; I simply didn’t want this book to end and was truly bereft when it was over. But, you know, I can still feel that rascal Buddy in my mind and I can still feel him out there in the world, sallying forth bravely and insanely as always. He’s like the greatest characters in fiction — so profoundly vivid and unique that he goes on living after the last page has turned.”
– Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir! and creator of the television series Bored to Death
“Sommelier of Deformity is that rare and delightful phenomenon, a novel that is actually funny. Buddy Hayes joins the company of the great a rascal narrators of literature and in the telling of his tale, proves that an over-examined life might just need living. Nick Yetto is a talented storyteller and crafter of characters, and he’s just getting started. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”
-Christopher Moore, NY Times Bestselling Author of Lamb and A Dirty Job
“Worthy of the highest praise, Sommelier of Deformity is an extraordinary feast.”
-Jeff Johnson, author of Knottspeed and Deadbomb Bingo Ray
Turner Publishing Company – Author Blog Post (July 30, 2018)
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Website/Facebook/Twitter Write-up: PARADE Magazine (July 24, 2018)
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Book Review: Foreword Magazine (July/August 2018 issue)
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Author Profile: Times Union (Sunday, July 8. 2018)
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Illustrations by Owen Sherwood | owensherwood.com