A Spokane college graduate searches for wealth and fame in LA but finds only a string of dead-end jobs and outlandish individuals in Jans’ witty debut drama.
In 1987, Jack Fitzpatrick’s plans to be rich and famous are off to a good start. Beverly Hills talent agent Alain Michaels tells Jack that he can find him work as a model in California. But when the modeling gig doesn’t pan out, Jack’s more determined than ever to make it on his own instead of returning to Spokane. He stays with a friend and runs through a few temp jobs, finally finding success as a bond broker. Jack makes good money at bond firm Freedom Capital Markets, but he soon realizes that he wants to share it with someone. There are more pressing issues for Jack, however, once he finds himself behind bars. The author’s Bukowski-esque tale has an ordinary protagonist immersed in extraordinary circumstances. Jack’s escape from his Spokane roots, for instance, is sublimely epitomized by Mrs. Pohlkiss, an affluent neighbor who looks down on him and who’s immediately on his mind at the slightest sign of failure. Likewise, Jack, while certainly not naïve, is faced with obstacles he’s never considered—complacency or boredom with a job and a revolving door of co-workers, some of them friends who leave too soon and a shady few who are considerably less friendly. Jack’s nonchalant narration manages to take the bite out of the story’s darker bits, like the protagonist’s eventual arrest and incarceration, as well as the toilet humor. Other characters, too, have their comic moments: Noah’s wife, a millionaire by inheritance, still demands that her husband get a job. Jans wisely saves details about Jack’s dog until later in the story. The revelation comes about the time readers’ sympathy for the protagonist may be waning since he starts dating an Asian woman simply because he’s tired of having sex with white women. Jack’s goal continually changes throughout the novel—he wants fame, success, and maybe even a wife—but what he truly craves is finally answered in a satisfying coda that’s both over-the-top and a little endearing.
An engrossing but tongue-in-cheek drama that, even at its most dramatic, will leave readers smiling.