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Not about bugs that sting; instead, a bittersweet first novel from an ex-screenwriter about a Jewish ex-screenwriter in a midlife crisis who can't quite fathom why Hollywood is so Jewish and so vile.

Shortly before turning 40, Frankie Jordan, trying to finish a screenplay, is mired in writer’s block when her supremely successful Academy Award–winner screenwriter (non-Jewish) husband, Hart, decides their childless 13-year marriage isn't working out and dumps her. Frankie—Francine Fingerman before she moved from suburban Long Island to Los Angeles and became Hart's second wife—gets lunch and sympathy from her agent, Freyda. Jonathan Prince, Freyda's new 24-year-old secretary, tells Frankie he saw a movie of the week she wrote ages ago and he's her biggest fan. Frankie, grateful for any kind words, lets Jonathan, a sarcastic, good-looking, good-dressing Jewish kid also from Long Island, charm his way into her life. He helps her move to a cozy apartment owned by Herschel, a struggling playwright, and Miriam, who dotes on her husband because she thinks he's a genius. Miriam and Herschel become Frankie's surrogate parents while Jonathan becomes a surrogate brother, laughing with her at the pretentious, neurotic Jews who dominate the film industry. When her screenplay is sold to a studio and Frankie is hired to revise it (the Jewish producers think the characters are too Jewish), Jonathan serves as her secretary, finagles a promotion, and rapidly transforms himself into a Sammy Glick, sucking up to superiors, stealing story ideas, and harassing restaurant staff. He suddenly has no time for Frankie, who makes peace with her Jewish upbringing and sees in Jonathan the subject for a novel.

A whiny, thoroughly Jewish insider kvetch on the hopelessly crass Hollywood of Bruce Wagner, Donald Westlake, and others, with sharply drawn characters and a quiet compassion for the beasts who run the zoo.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-17464-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000