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

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THE COMPLETELY UNVERIFIED TRUE STORY OF A REALITY TELEVISION SUPERSTAR

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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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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