THE PSYCHO EX GAME by Merrill Markoe


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Pseudo-epistolary novel that veers madly from dull to insightful to some competent middle-ground: a collaboration between TV writer/humorist Markoe and ex-Wall of Voodoo member Prieboy.

Assuming this is loosely autobiographical, the Markoe (It’s My F***ing Birthday, 2002, etc.) stand-in is Lisa, a lonely writer who spends her days locked in a windowless room with a bunch of pasty, chubby, socially challenged men as they bang out scripts for a mediocre sitcom. Prieboy’s alter ego is Grant, a once well-known ’80s rocker whose career slump has picked up recently with the buzzy success of his new play, Tommy! (Lee!): The Musical (Prieboy, not coincidentally, wrote a musical called White Trash Wins Lotto). After the two briefly chat following a performance of the show, they exchange e-mails and their respective creative output (Lisa’s books, Grant’s music). Their e-meet-cute develops into a virtual friendship through their invention of the titular game, in which they exchange true stories of pain each suffered at the hands of a respective former boy/girlfriend and award points based on levels of humiliation achieved. For Lisa, this is a desperate lifeline, pretty much the only thing that keeps her going. Grant, while engaged in the game, is doing it more for entertainment’s sake (at first, anyhow), encouraged by his scenemaker girlfriend Winnie. She’s mostly interested in hearing Lisa’s stories about her ex, who just happens to be a megalomaniacal filmmaker currently interested in buying the rights to Grant’s musical. Grant’s segments are engaging, in an LA-insider sort of way, limning the delicate power plays and phantom gossip that make up the daily life of the city’s creative community. If only the tale hadn’t kept shifting back to Lisa, a dull creation as manipulative as she is spineless, who evokes some slight sympathy from the reader only because she’s not malicious like Winnie.

Half Hollywood horror story, half dippy relationship saga: about two thirds of a good book.

Pub Date: June 29th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4000-6076-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004


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