Gayle, Mike 1970–
Gayle, Mike 1970–
PERSONAL: Born 1970, in Birmingham, England; married; wife's name Claire.
CAREER: Just Seventeen, features editor; model for Benetton.
My Legendary Girlfriend, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1998, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Mr. Commitment, Flame (London, England), 1999, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2000.
Turning Thirty, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2000.
Dinner for Two, Flame (London, England), 2002.
His 'n' Hers, Flame (London, England), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including More, Sky, FHM, Cosmopolitan, B, and London Sunday Times. Former advice columnist for Bliss; columnist for Express.
SIDELIGHTS: Mike Gayle was once an "agony uncle," the term used by the British newspapers for a male advice columnist, and this experience likely prepared him for writing about relationships in his popular novels. Todd Alexander, interviewing Gale for Dymocks online, noted that in the United Kingdom Gayle has been compared to Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones's Diary. Gayle explained that his novels "are, for the main part, character driven," and "talk about life the way it is…. My characters seem real because their concerns, as well as being on the big things of life (love, work, and the meaning of life), are also about the small things—TV, supermarket shopping, which socks to wear. It's the small stuff, not the big stuff, that makes us human beings."
School Library Journal contributor Julie Dasso recommended Gayle's debut, My Legendary Girlfriend, for teen readers, who can relate to the story. The protagonist is English teacher Will Kelly, and the girlfriend of the title is Aggie, who dumped Will three years earlier, on his twenty-third birthday. What makes her legendary is the fact that Will continues to fantasize about what might have been. Will lives in a grungy apartment and has a job, but he is having problems paying back his student loans. He has a new girlfriend whose self-esteem is even lower than his. His friend, Alice, is supportive, but then he discovers that another friend, Simon, has betrayed him. The promise of a positive, new relationship comes when Kate, the former resident of Will's apartment, contacts him while trying to track down a paycheck. The question is whether Kate can make him forget Aggie.
Dasso wrote that "the author of this charming tale brings readers to a sympathetic understanding of the protagonist, even when his behavior is at its most pathetic." A Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that "while readers may sometimes have to resist the urge to throttle Will, Gayle pokes enough fun at his character's self-induced and hilariously pathetic predicament to make this a genial time-killer." Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley said that "romance and humor mix brilliantly in this winning novel."
Gayle's second novel, Mr. Commitment, was his first to be published in the United States. Benjamin Duffy, a struggling temp by day and standup comedian by night, is living with a buddy in a modest flat. Duffy is in a relationship with Mel, a successful, beautiful advertising executive who, after four years, has given him the marriage ultimatum. Duffy agrees, but then gets commitment phobia. They break up and Duffy becomes involved with a television personality named Alexa, while Mel also finds romance elsewhere. "Duffy's jealous reactions to Mel's new boyfriend are laugh-out-loud funny," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, adding that "Gayle skillfully captures the on-again, off-again patterns of contemporary relationships." Booklist reviewer John Green wrote that "Duffy's desperate attempts to cling to his pathetic life will amuse and enlighten both commitmentphiles and commitmentphobes." Kimberly White wrote in Black Issues Book Review that Gayle "provides a fresh, witty male perspective on relationships…. His writing style keeps the reader engrossed in the story."
Kliatt reviewer Nola Theiss called Dinner for Two "charming and funny," and felt that although it is about an adult relationship, it will also appeal to young adults. Izzy and Dave work for London magazines, she as a fashion editor, and he as a music writer. They have been married for three years when Izzy suffers a miscarriage. Dave longs for a family, but Izzy is reluctant to try again. Gayle incorporates his own experience in this story when his male protagonist loses his job and takes another position as advice columnist for a teen magazine. He is surprised when he becomes sought after by heartbroken girls, and then meets a beautiful thirteen-year-old who claims to be his daughter. Dave is thrilled at the idea, but he keeps his new relationship secret from Izzy as long as he can. When she finds out, he is faced with a decision. A Publishers Weekly writer said that "Gayle's sensitive and poignant male-perspective novel … will tug at the heartstrings and give female readers a peek into the male psyche."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, May, 2001, Kimberley White, review of Mr. Commitment, p. 20.
Booklist, December 15, 2000, John Green, review of Mr. Commitment, p. 785; June 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of My Legendary Girlfriend, p. 1683; June 1, 2004, Beth Leistensnider, review of Dinner for Two, p. 1700.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of My Legendary Girlfriend, p. 514; May 15, 2004, review of Dinner for Two, p. 458.
Kliatt, November, 2004, Nola Theiss, review of Dinner for Two, p. 16.
Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Joyce Smothers, review of Mr. Commitment, p. 96; July, 2002, Jan Blodgett, review of My Legendary Girlfriend, p. 118.
People, February 19, 2001, Kyle Smith, review of Mr. Commitment, p. 43.
Publishers Weekly, November 13, 2000, review of Mr. Commitment, p. 87; April 22, 2002, review of My Legendary Girlfriend, p. 45; June 7, 2004, review of Dinner for Two, p. 30.
School Library Journal, January, 2003, Julie Dasso, review of My Legendary Girlfriend, p. 174.
Dymocks Online, http://www.dymocks.com.au/ (March 17, 2005), Todd Alexander, interview with Gayle.
Mike Gayle Home Page, http://www.mikegayle.co.uk (March 17. 2005).