A young, struggling comedian is invited to her idol's home for a Memorial Day weekend party, where she is forced to reconcile the trappings of fame and fortune with reality.
Late-night star and stand-up legend Hugo Best is past his prime, and the writing staff on his hit show, Stay Up with Hugo Best, knows it. But by the time 29-year-old June Bloom graduates from page duties to the writers’ room, the show is cancelled and she's back to square one. "The worst I had suffered was nonsuccess," June thinks of her inability to care for herself. "I had been provided for. I hadn't been harmed or held back, I hadn't been scarred, but I had quietly failed anyway." After a chance encounter with Hugo in one of his old stand-up haunts, June decides to accept an invitation to his Connecticut house for the holiday weekend. There, she encounters Spencer, Hugo's lonely, caustic teenage son, discovers a forlorn club stage in Hugo's basement, and wanders in and out of rooms designed "to pull everything together under a single umbrella of muted opulence." On the surface, Somers' debut is light and breezy, but the narrative is deft, controlled, and deadly smart. She mines depths out of Hollywood's propensity to look the other way when beloved men behave badly without a hint of preachiness. Instead, she's interested in complicity. June makes a mismatched but pleasantly cynical foil for the alternately sleazy and charming Hugo, whose public image has long been tarnished by an infamous incident with an underage girl. What could be a straightforward novel about a young woman and an older man taking mutual advantage of one another is instead a brilliant study in how rarely we seize opportunities to grow and change for the better—especially if we're lucky enough to get more than one.
An outstanding comedic debut about the deeply unfunny trials of growing up in and out of the spotlight. Somers is a writer to watch.