Antil’s (The Pompey Hollow Book Club, 2011, etc.) debut memoir tells of his charting a path as a young man in advertising and marketing in 1960s America.
When readers first meet Antil, he’s a college basketball player on scholarship at Xavier University in 1959. After a difficult breakup and a troubling spat with his basketball coach, Antil decides to go down his own path, and his persistence and nerve serve him well as he becomes increasingly successful in advertising and marketing. Though the memoir provides readers with some salient details of a bygone era, from the trivialities of outdated office technology to more serious reflections on the Jim Crow South, the past tends to be seen through rose-tinted glasses. A sense of hokey nostalgia pervades the book, both historically and personally, and most of the supporting characters are cast in a fond, even hagiographic light. Antil’s professional successes are presented so cheerfully that it’s hard to worry about anything turning out less than swell. The difficult, penetrative self-reflection present in the best memoirs is disappointingly absent here, and the structure of the book reflects this problem: Instead of focusing on any one event or theme to provide his story with a central conflict and overarching direction, Antil has written a comprehensive history of 14 years of his life. Amid the abundance of detail and frequently overwrought prose, as well as black-and-white photos and newspaper clippings from the era, certain stronger anecdotes lose their punch when surrounded by so much chaff.
An unfocused memoir that romanticizes the business world of the ’60s, at the expense of personal insight.