"WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT" by Sherwood Kiraly


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Amusing whimsy that will hit home for folks who chuckle at celebrity jokes, while readers seeking more serious laughs will find this gummy, dumb, and empty Kiraly (Diminished Capacity, 1995) specializes in terrifically cute stories that surely must be gaining him fans among the mentally underprivileged. This time out, although the story starts in the middle of the action, one simply doesn't care about any of it. The narrator is magazine hack Joe Hoyle, who believes in the curative, rejuvenating powers of good movies, and has spent ten years working for his old college roomie, Harry Poe, creator of the celebrity weekly Who's Hot/Who's Not, which divides in the middle between rising and falling stars. Joe also writes a column about the Where Did They Go people for the magazine. Joe and Harry were once in a car accident of sorts in which they nearly went over a cliff but were saved. Now, Harry tells Joe they are on bonus time, so they should do something worth doing with their extra years of life. Harry disappears but the magazine goes on, while Joe sits home, bereft of his girlfriend, TV-gazing and wishing there were a Samuel Beckett Channel to cheer him up. Then Harry returns unharmed, and to win a bet picks up a bag lady on the L.A. Freeway and more or less installs her in his office, tries to sober her up, and falls head over heels for her business smarts. Is bad-mouthing Carole Spangler, the bag lady, the reason that Harry Poe was given bonus time? When Harry wavers toward selling his weekly to a billionaire British publisher and starting up an entirely new magazine staffed by the homeless such as Carole, strange things begin happening, with huge indications of sabotage that might even shrink the value of Who's Hot/Who's Not. Among other things, someone wires Harry's recliner and nearly electrocutes him. Which of Harry's enemies is doing all this? The answer ties the story together neatly, though some readers will be left with Great Stone Faces.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
Page count: 195pp
Publisher: Berkley