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A mordantly funny portrait of the incestuous, fame-addled worlds of publishing and celebrity journalism, as viewed through the eyes of a frantinally lovelorn writer. This is terrain that McInerney (The Last of the Savages, 1996, etc.) knows well, and he writes about it with the assurance and zest of a longtime observer. Connor McKnight’s already shaky world begins to dissolve when his girlfriend, temperamental model Philomena, suddenly departs for the coast. Only after she’s gone does the usually self-obsessed Connor begin to suspect that she may have left him for good. Not only that, but he’s under pressure from his razor-tongued boss at CiaoBella!, a gaudy gossip-and-fashion magazine, to deliver on a profile of the beefcake star of the moment, Chip Ralston. Problem is, Ralston keeps ducking him. Even worse, Connor’s beloved older sister Brooke, a brilliant physicist, is sinking into anorexia in the wake of her divorce from a famous scientist. Connor’s frantic attempts to track down Philomena fail, and his mood isn’t improved by the antics of his best friend Jeremy, a dour, colorfully neurotic writer dreading the publication of his new novel. (In one of the book’s many ironies, Jeremy, the only character who loathes celebrity status, has it thrust upon him in the wake of a confrontation with a pair of truculent meat-eaters at a trendy hotspot.) It’s Thanksgiving, and Brooke and Connor’s upper-class, blithely alcoholic parents come to town for a family gathering, providing McInerney with the material for a hilarious dinner. Connor’s life sinks to its nadir when he discovers that the reason Chip has been avoiding him is that he’s off with Philomena. Still, there’s a marginally happy ending for Connor—though the pleasure here is in the journey: McInerney has produced a pitch-perfect skewering of our star mad times, displaying wonderful comic timing in the process. The volume also includes seven (generally rather somber) stories, touching on the themes of moneyed unease, infidelity, and skewed ambition. Droll, sharp-edged fun.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-42846-1
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998


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