RAW by Mark Haskell Smith


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LA writer Smith is back with another frothy satire (Moist, 2007, etc.).

This time out, the focus is on America's most beloved abs, which belong to Sepp Gregory, a reality TV star who parlayed conspicuous muscle and a broken heart on a show called Sex Cribs into a follow-up series and then glossy-magazine and tabloid celebrity. Now, he's written—or at least is purported to have written—an autobiographical novel called Totally Reality. He's making shirtless appearances in thronged bookstores everywhere but also struggling with a secret case of impotence; it turns out that behind that rock-hard six-pack is a sweet and simple soul who needs to be in love in order to perform. Enter Harriet Post, a ferociously snobby (but, natch, demurely lovely) literary blogger and wannabe novelist who sees, in the blindly ecstatic reception of the novel, all the signs of impending apocalypse. She vows to out the ghostwriter and expose the vapid Sepp. After a scene of steamy four-way farce in the Playboy Mansion's library—a scene featuring Sepp, Harriet, the ghostwriter and the surgically enhanced belle dame sans merci who seduced and then abandoned Sepp on Sex Cribs—there's a terrible accident, and Harriet and Sepp find themselves on the lam in the desert, where what starts as a case of lust threatens to blossom into something more. Smith plays it fast and very, very loose in his sendup of celebrity culture, TV and literary publishing, and a good bit of this is just cheerful porn wearing the scantiest fig leaf of wit.

Satire doesn't get any broader or easier, but that doesn't mean that the book's not at least fitfully fun. 

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2201-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2013


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