Entertaining but far from caustic satire on celebrityhood that finds Corman (Prized Possessions, 1991, etc.) having fun with publishing and show biz. It's hard to knock a novel that never takes itself seriously but remains absolutely readable from first to last--though Corman fails to rise above the even level of charm he handles so deftly throughout. Paul Brock, a middle-aging scriptwriter tired of television (though he's won four Emmys), finishes his first novel. His agent auctions the ms., but it achieves only a midlist advance, not enough to keep Paul's family in shoes and dentistry while he writes a second novel. His best friend, Mel Steiner, a towering moneymaker in the music biz, takes on the book himself, becomes a publisher, and gives Paul the big hype, starting with a $100,000 advance. Astounded, Paul finds that Mel wants to make him over into a concert star and have Paul a household name before bringing out the novel. Paul writes the lyrics for 20 songs that stand up for the middle class against the yuppies; a fancy orchestrator helps with the tunes; Mel opens a media blitz; and Paul debuts at Radio City Music Hall to a standing ovation (paid for by Mel). The novel rides the stairway to hype-heaven in a step-by-step way that has an aura of authenticity to its satire, though the reader's light heart is taken for granted. It's Corman's happy inspiration to load the story with real celebrities--Mario Puzo, John Updike, Bette Midler, Paul Simon, John le CarrÇ, Dr. Ruth, and many, many others--who speak glowingly of Paul's talent at every turn. Corman is less inspired at giving these folks sharp edges or handling them with satisfying wit. The main flaw here is that very little stands in the way of Mel's dream-roller hype, and whatever friction does arise offers little heat. A publishing phenomenon? Who knows. But hype will help.