Lyons, Paul 1958–
Lyons, Paul 1958–
ADDRESSES: Office—University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of English, Kukendall 520, 1733 Donaghho Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822.
CAREER: University of Hawaii, Manoa, associate professor of English.
AWARDS, HONORS: College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature Excellence in Teaching Award, 1996; Board of Regents' Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2004.
Going for Broke (novel), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1991.
(Editor) The Quotable Gambler, Lyons Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Button Man (novel), Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2004.
(Editor and author of introduction), The Greatest Gambling Stories Ever Told, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including American Literature, Studies in Modern Fiction, Minnesota Review, and Philadelphia Enquirer.
WORK IN PROGRESS: American Pacifism (1790–2003), for Routledge.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Lyons' second novel, Going for Broke, continues the author's exploration of gambling begun in his first book, Table Legs. The story revolves around a compulsive gambler named Jason who goes on a trip through Europe to find himself. Lyons details Jason's escapades as he becomes involved with the varied characters he meets on the road, including Julia. When the two become involved with a hedonistic group of musicians, their relationship reaches a crisis point. Eventually, Jason ends up in Monte Carlo, where his personal weaknesses threaten to ruin his life. Writing in Publishers Weekly, Sybil Steinberg felt that "the exaggerated characters and situations progressively weaken the plot's credibility."
Button Man takes place in 1988 and features a gambler called Hawk who becomes indebted to a loan shark named Armand. Hawk is selling political buttons at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions; it is a good way to make money that he learned from an old mentor named Sammy. Hawk is also on the run from one of Armand's goons, a vicious who has already cut off one of Hawk's toes. Hawk's life becomes complicated further when his new girlfriend's ex-husband begins stalking her and Hawk's old friend Sammy undergoes heart surgery.
Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that Button Man "rambles more than it needs to," the reviewer also called the novel a good "portrait of life on the make." Writing in Booklist, Frank Sennett commented, "With this downbeat elegy to the wire-walking schemers who sell the world its loose fruit and tube socks, Lyons delivers a soulful, satisfying read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 4, 2004, Frank Sennett, review of Button Man, p. 1818.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of Button Man, p. 417.
Publishers Weekly, January 11, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of Going for Broke, p. 92.
University of Hawaii Department of English Web site, http://maven.english.hawaii.edu/ (February 11, 2005), "Paul Lyons."