The Next Chapter

Jowita Bydlowska gets into the mind of a sociopathic womanizer

You could call him a a rascal or a wolf, but you probably shouldn't call him back after that first date. Bydlowska's protagonist, Guy, is not as great a catch as he appears.
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of the bestselling memoir Drunk Mom. Guy is her debut novel. (CBC)

Jowita Bydlowska rose to attention as the author of Drunk Mom, her bestselling 2013 memoir about struggling with alcoholism when she was a new mother. Her satirical debut novel, Guy, is a compelling portrait of a womanizer — an outwardly charming man who is in fact a misogynist who thinks he's doing the women he seduces a great favour. It's not comfortable to be inside Guy's head, but by putting us there, the book raises plenty of questions about the nature of misogyny and the culture at large. It also has a lot to say about what makes women susceptible to this kind of man.

A guy named Guy, who's not a great guy

Guy is in his early 30s. He's an agent to pop stars, and he's quite successful. He's aware of his good looks and he's very successful with women. It's something he discovers as a teenager — that he has a certain power over women. That becomes a pursuit, almost a fetish, for him. He has a career, but his biggest pleasure is getting women and then dumping them.

Guy is such a bad character, and his view on life is quite bleak and cynical. So I needed to add humour in order to make him more likeable. I like the idea of the reader getting a little confused about how they feel toward a character who's not very sympathetic. So I thought humour relieved the tension.

The appeal of writing a character totally unlike herself

I started writing it around the same time as I was going through edits for Drunk Mom. That is a memoir, so I was constantly writing about myself or editing myself. It's a very claustrophobic world to sit there with yourself all day. I needed an escape from that.

I was at this beach resort. I was walking on the beach, and there was this really attractive guy. I glanced at him and he wouldn't look back, and I felt very indignant! I thought, "Oh my God, what would it be like to be him?" He was such an opposite person from who I was — a drunk mom writing a memoir — that I thought, "I'm just going to inhabit that person for a while. I'm going to write this character, and it's going to be my great escape." And it was — it was really helpful to get some distance from what I was writing, and have that little place in Guy's head, to hide.

Jowita Bydlowska's comments have been edited and condensed.