An enjoyable, cranky novel about an unwilling unscripted television actor.


A former reality star is forced to return to the show that once destroyed his personal life in this comic novel by Schild (Aversion Therapy, 2012).

Eight years ago, Mick Rhodes became famous—or infamous—for an incident that occurred on the reality television show House Rules. Mick walked in on his fiancee, Molly Gipson, in bed with another man, Parker Peppercorn, and promptly engaged Parker in a fistfight. The scene became the stuff of trash TV legend—“Entertainment Weekly dubbed the ‘Parker and Mick incident’ as its number two most unbelievable moment in reality television history”—and Mick has spent the years since hiding away from the public eye behind the desk of his comic-book shop. When his old cast mate and only real friend, Annie Windham, begs him to participate in a House Rules reunion, Mick agrees despite his better judgment. The catch is, the show is formatted as a road trip. This means that he’ll be living in an RV for two and a half weeks with the rest of the cast, including Parker and Molly. As Mick is forced to complete asinine challenges during the day and ignore the sounds of Parker and Molly’s attention-seeking lovemaking at night, he tries to figure out how to survive the trip with his dignity intact. Then he finds out Annie’s husband is talking divorce, and Mick discovers that he is not immune to a bit of reality show intrigue himself. Schild’s prose is light and smooth, animating comic book–loving Mick’s bitter  voice: “I didn’t really care if I was intruding at this point, so I wandered over to the pair as if it were not patently obvious they were squabbling like Batman and Talia al Ghul.” The superhero obsession reads as rather generic in these days of the movies pouring forth from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Schild manages to fill the book with all the hookups, betrayals, and hijinks that one desires from an actual reality show. The author keeps the plot moving while still managing to wring some surprisingly astute comments on contemporary life out of the reality TV metaphor.

An enjoyable, cranky novel about an unwilling unscripted television actor.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73385-419-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Headlong Into Harm Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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