Juicy, if superficial and guilty of many of the very tricks it skewers.



From memoirist Ginsberg (About My Sisters, 2004, etc.), a romantic satire about the publishing industry that combines what the heroine herself calls “bite the boss” with “bit the assistant” fiction.

Spurred on by her aspiring-writer boyfriend Malcolm, Angel takes a job as personal assistant to powerful San Francisco literary agent Lucy Fiamma. Lucy, who gained prominence by discovering the wildly successful Alaskan memoir Cold!, by the reclusive author Karanak, gets the job done for her authors, but she is a vicious, heartless slave-driver with no real love for books or writers. But Lucy is no fool, and she quickly discovers that Angel, who worked in an independent bookstore until it closed, has a natural gift for finding promising manuscripts and whipping them into shape. Soon, Angel discovers Damiano Vero, a handsome Italian pastry-chef whose memoir recounting his drug addiction and recovery sells at auction for $500,000. Angel has a few more promising manuscripts in process when she receives an anonymous submission, a novel called Blind Submission, about a literary agency. Angel recognizes that the book is trashy but highly saleable, and Lucy quickly decides to represent the still-anonymous author. Then the chapters Angel begins receiving by e-mail have an increasingly familiar ring. Meanwhile, she and Malcolm break up after his book is rejected by the agency. Angel becomes involved with Damiano. As the chapters of B.S. (hint, hint) pile up, Angel realizes that someone is far too familiar with her life. Who is the author and why is he or she out to get Angel? Ginsberg comes across as an insider who is having a lot of fun skewering the seamier aspects of publishing. Although Angel mentions more than once that books about publishing don’t sell, Ginsberg’s own novel—The Devil Wears Prada meets All About Eve—wants to entertain the masses.

Juicy, if superficial and guilty of many of the very tricks it skewers.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2006

ISBN: 0-307-34604-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Shaye Areheart/Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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