Phillips, W. Glasgow 1969-

views updated

Phillips, W. Glasgow 1969-


Born 1969. Education: Attended Stanford University.


Home—Venice, CA. E-mail—[email protected].




Tuscaloosa: A Novel, Morrow (New York, NY), 1994.

The Royal Nonesuch: or, What Will I Do When I Grow Up?, Grove/Atlantic (New York, NY), 2007.


W. Glasgow Phillips enjoyed a promising literary debut with his first book, Tuscaloosa: A Novel. Critics admired its conscious manipulation of stock elements from southern fiction, including fraught racial relationships, class consciousness, and steamy romance. The novel, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, packs an "atmospheric wallop" in its coming-of-age account of Billy Mitchell, the twenty-two-year-old groundskeeper at the mental hospital where his father is head physician. Billy falls for a nymphomaniac patient. He also deals with the emotional baggage of his mother's death in a car accident with the family's black housekeeper—who had secretly been his mother's lover. In the New York Times Book Review, William Grimes described the novel as "complex" and "deceptively fleet," and praised Phillips's "keen psychological insights."

The success of Tuscaloosa earned Phillips a spot in Stanford University's creative writing program. But instead of producing a second novel, Phillips faced crippling writer's block. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he and several friends endeavored to remake themselves as successful cultural rebels in the world of emerging media. Among their projects were Quiddity, a business that came up with names for new products; Lapdance and Cannes You Dig It?, film festivals that mocked the likes of Sundance; Web sites; and films, including a Kung-Fu send-up in which a Shaolin monk uses his genitals to defeat his enemies. These adventures—all of which failed—he chronicles in his memoir, The Royal Nonesuch: or, What Will I Do When I Grow Up? The book, according to LA Weekly contributor Nathan Ihara, "captures the giddy, discombobulating gallimaufry at the bottom rungs of show business" and is "painfully funny." Though The Royal Nonesuch impressed many critics, some found it overdone and self-indulgent. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews, for example, called the book a "mundane account of a pampered kid trying to find himself that offers nothing particularly illuminating, artful or self-reflective." A Publishers Weekly writer gave The Royal Nonesuch a starred review, praising its "unsparing comic portrait of underground Hollywood" and its blend of comedy and pathos. Washington Post Book World critic Jonathan Yardley deemed Phillips a "very good writer who has written … a very good book: funny (at times laugh-out-loud funny), smart, self-mocking, very much of the moment."



Booklist, January 15, 1994, Gilbert Taylor, review of Tuscaloosa: A Novel, p. 901; December 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of The Royal Nonesuch: or, What Will I Do When I Grow Up?, p. 10.

Entertainment Weekly, March 16, 2007, Jennifer Reese, review of The Royal Nonesuch, p. 75.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of The Royal Nonesuch, p. 1116.

LA Weekly, March 6, 2007, Nathan Ihara, "The Joy of Failure."

Library Journal, December 1, 1993, review of Tuscaloosa, p. 176.

New York Times Book Review, May 1, 1994, Jim Gladstone, review of Tuscaloosa; March 14, 2007, William Grimes, "For a Man Who Refuses to Grow Up, Life Is One Long Teenage Prank."

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1993, review of Tuscaloosa, p. 71; June 19, 1995, review of Tuscaloosa, p. 56; October 30, 2006, review of The Royal Nonesuch, p. 45.

Washington Post Book World, March 11, 2007, Jonathan Yardley, "A Memoir of Great Expectations and Equally Great Burnout," p. 15.


The Royal Nonesuch, (June 25, 2007), W. Glasgow Phillips Web log.

About this article

Phillips, W. Glasgow 1969-

Updated About content Print Article